Simulation Can Improve Sterilization Department

Increased staff seen as key to reducing the numbers of waiting trays and dirty carts
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 21 (HealthDay News) -- A simulation model can help hospitals design an efficient central sterilization department that improves surgical sterilization operations and prevents infections. Also, understanding steam sterilization recommendations and guidelines is essential for perioperative staff nurses and managers who are responsible for instrument processing, according to two studies published in the October issue of the AORN Journal.

In one study, Feng Lin, of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and colleagues collaborated with administrators at a regional, tertiary, 750-bed hospital in Indianapolis who were initiating complete redesign of their surgical suite. In their simulation model, they found that increases in clean room staffing would decrease the average tray turnaround time and decrease the number of waiting trays. They also found that increases in cart preparation staff would decrease surgical delays by reducing the number of dirty carts.

In a second study, Cynthia Spry, an independent clinical consultant based in New York City, states that perioperative nurses and managers should be knowledgeable about cleaning, packaging, cycle selection, and the use of physical, chemical and biological monitors. She also recommends that nurses be able to resolve issues related to loaner sets, flash sterilization and extended cycles.

"The practical implication of this project is that for this surgical suite, staffing, not equipment, is the constraining resource," Lin and colleagues write. "Thus, operating room administrators need to concentrate on better recruiting, training and retention of central sterilization department staff members to meet long-term operating room needs. Increasing the efficiency of the central sterilization department increases patient and workforce safety by ensuring that patients and health care workers are safe from infections caused by contaminated instruments."

Abstract - Lin
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Abstract - Spry
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