Cost to Train Personnel in Sterile Processing Has Doubled

Training an employee in processing of surgical instruments may cost over $40,000
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Aug. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Since 1998, the cost required to train sterile processing personnel to a competent level has increased substantially, according to research published in the August issue of the AORN Journal.

Nancy Chobin, R.N., of the Saint Barnabas Health Care System in West Orange, N.J., conducted a survey of randomly selected health care facilities in 1998 about their training of sterile processing personnel, including the length of time needed to train employees to process general surgical and specialty surgical instruments. In 2008, she conducted a survey of the same facilities to evaluate trends in training, bearing in mind the increasing sophistication of surgical procedures over time. There were 42 respondents from 23 states.

The author found that most of the respondents to the 2008 survey indicated training would require three to six months (60 percent) or six months to a year (31 percent), and that slightly more than half of preceptors (52 percent) work with new employees for two or three months. The 2008 calculated cost for training a sterile processing technician to competency more than doubled since 1998, from $20,426 to $41,414 (including the preceptor's salary).

"These costs must be weighed against the loss of revenue when procedures are delayed because of missing, damaged, or unclean instruments and the patient safety issues that could result if an employee is not well trained," the author writes.

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