In the past few weeks alone the headlines have been rough, with failure after failure in the cleaning and sterilization process on many different medical devices. These are not the headlines the CEO of a medical facility wants to see. Some of the headlines have dealt with inadequate training of staff and others have been related to missing steps in the process. Regardless of the cause, it seems that staff is under pressure to make sure they do their job right each and every time. If not, there is no telling what a missed step in the process might cause. Even the failure to brush and flush a device the required amount of times can cause serious consequences to the patient.
To me, there are two fundamental concerns. The first is ensuring adequate training of staff, and the second is having the right tools available to do the job. In this issue, I am going to address the first concern: adequate training. We have to ensure that we start forming new and good habits through training and practice. We have to make sure staff is confident in their skills and that they follow the IFU.
The Joint Commission makes it clear that hospitals must define competencies and have a method to assess whether a particular staff member possesses those competencies. Hospitals must also make sure the individual conducting the assessment has the educational background, experience and knowledge related to the skills being reviewed.
For those who have heard me speak over the last 28+ years, I have a few key statements, one being: "Do it right each and every time". These words tie directly into competencies. We have to make sure our staff understands the who, what, where and why they need to do something.
The key to a successful training program is meaningful feedback. In this case, are the devices being reprocessed guaranteed safe and ready to use on the next patients? Cleaning verification tests, for instance, are an excellent tool for evaluating the ability of staff to achieve the objective of the process. Healthmark has a number of simple, but effective tools for doing just that. Please check them out.