Archive February 2019 XX, No. 2

3 Dangerous SPD Staffing Myths

It takes a village to raise a reprocessing department.

Weston "Hank" Balch

Weston "Hank" Balch, CRCST, CIS, CHL


Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
SILENT PARTNERS IN SAFETY Staffers in the central sterile department at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center inspect reprocessed instruments.

Why do some of our facilities end up with sterile processing leaders who have checked out, frontline staff who have lost their passion and customers in the operating room who feel the pain? There are at least 3 dangerous staffing myths that can lead facilities to fall into traps.

Myth #1: Trust in a Reprocessing Renaissance Man (or Woman)

A common misconception about creating an excellent sterile processing department is the idea that they can revolve around one leader who "has all the answers," one all-star who can come in and flip the switch from struggle to success. But the truth is, there are no lone ranger superstars in the reprocessing industry. Behind every leadership accolade, every department recognition, every publicized process improvement event is a team of CS experts who ensured that the hundred or so steps it takes to properly process a surgical tray got done on time and in good order.

Facilities who place the entire responsibility for hiring, firing, on-boarding, training, coaching, development, supply ordering, process improving, vision-casting, shift supervising, budgeting, quality-assuring and OR communicating on the shoulders of a reprocessing manager or supervisor are setting themselves up for a quality disaster. There are many jacks-of-all-trades in the reprocessing world, but none rise to the level of master. There is no such thing as a reprocessing polymath. Facilities that refuse to acknowledge the necessity of a supporting cast of leaders in their sterile processing departments will consistently experience service breakdowns, quality challenges and leadership burnout. Reprocessing excellence is a team sport.

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