This week starts my 12th year with Healthmark, as the saying goes " you have come a long way baby!!!." Many things have changed in the Sterile Processing field in the last 12 years. The list is long, but one of the major changes has been the focus on cleaning. The impact of improperly cleaned items are now making headlines in national publications and on internet pages. The media focus has made medical facilities look closer at their cleaning process. Quality improvement is now the norm and not the outlier as it was 12 years ago. Using any of the tools or methods for quality improvement allows medical facilities to look for the small variance in their processes and try to prevent major issues from taking place. A story we posted last week points this out. Mark Chassin, M.D., president of the Joint Commission, stated "...the way these organizations maintain and improve on exemplary safety records is by ... understanding that every small deviation from a very highly performing process is a sign it might fail tomorrow. The only way you can stay ahead of that game is by everyone looking for these small things." Dr.Chassin statement can be applied to cleaning. Verification of the process allows us to understand better what is going on and if a quality improvement system is used it can help identify the "small issues" in the process and catch them before they become a bigger issue. It reminds me of how Healthmark has made its check sheet for the washer verification process. Checking for a blocked spray arm or making sure screens are cleaned are the small things but they can have a big impact on the outcome: clean instruments. It is more than just running a test, it is understanding your process and the factors, large and small, that impact that process. Lastly, because of this focus, we are looking at how we write our standards and guidelines. We are now using terms like "evidence" based practice to help support the how and why we do things. Healthmark has always believed that monitoring the cleaning process should be part of every departments' quality improvement program. We have products that are evidence-based that, along with a quality improvement program, allow the healthcare professional to verify their cleaning effectiveness at any stage in the process. Yes, a lot has changed these past 12 years, but when it comes to cleaning we all know that you will always have to ... "Keep it Clean."


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