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Archive February 2020 XXI, No. 2

Infection Prevention: You've Got a Friend in SPD

A buddy system improves the effectiveness of instrument care.

Cheryl Barratt

Cheryl Barratt, RN, BS, MHA


David Jagrosse

David Jagrosse, CRCST, CHL


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
TEAMS WORK Better communication between the OR and central sterile fosters collaborative problem-solving.

A surgical nurse has a habit of sending instruments with caked on biofilm to the sterile processing department. A well-meaning reprocessing tech reports the issue to her supervisor, who in turn calls the OR manager to discuss the problem. The nurse wonders why the tech didn't approach her directly instead of involving their bosses, and makes it a point to watch for an incomplete instrument set sent back to the OR so she can settle the score. Sound familiar?

Establishing a buddy system between the OR and SPD can end this vicious cycle of perceived tattling, blame and payback, and improve instrument care by forging a culture of respect and understanding. Here's how to promote communication and teamwork among two groups that don't always see eye to eye.

1. Recruit natural leaders
Approach OR and SPD staff members who act as mentors within their respective departments and ask them to extend their sphere of influence by serving as the first set of buddies. The size of your facility will determine how many buddy-to-buddy connections are needed, and whether they should have designated specialties based on the volume and types of procedures you perform.

2. Set the tone
Surgical techs and RNs should be paired with a central processing tech buddy at some point during their orientations. Giving new OR employees the opportunity to spend time in SPD allows them to learn about the decontamination and sterilization processes, and gain an appreciation for how the SPD staff contributes to safe patient care. Likewise, new hires in SPD should be paired with an OR buddy and spend time observing surgical procedures to understand how and why the instruments they clean and sterilize are used. Of course, these visits should be encouraged for existing employees as well.

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