Disturbing news from the popular press:
From California : "The technician described he would fill the sink with water and add about 10 pumps of solution to the sink water. He stated he did not remember how he was taught the mixing procedure. He stated he did not recall having this part of his job checked with his annual competencies or his evaluation."
From Australia : "Thousands of former patients of a Warrawong medical clinic will be told to undergo testing for HIV and other blood-borne diseases after an investigation uncovered unsafe infection control practices there."
Both of these stories are disturbing because they were completely avoidable if the involved institutions insured that staff were certified and participating in ongoing competency training.
In my view, right now two professions are at the cross roads when it comes to certification: Biomedical Engineering and Sterile Processing. As of today, almost anyone can show up in both of these fields and get a job without certification of some type (other than New Jersey for the Sterile Processing technician). This has the potential for danger in both areas.
We need to stop the stories of staff not understanding why they have to "do it the right way each and every time," because if not, harm could befall a patient.
Certification is only one part of the answer. It will not solve all of the issues, but it is a good start. Both the Biomedical and Sterile Processing area are key to patient safety and reducing hospital infections. Get involved with your professional group and support certification.
Healthmark is trying to help raise this level by posting on our home page meetings and seminars for healthcare professionals so they can attend training sessions in their area.
I do hope that when you review these stories you reflect on your work practice and try to make a difference because I would hate to see you or your hospital in the headlines. Let us learn from the mistakes of others.