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Archive Surgical Construction 2020

Set Up for Success in Sterile Processing

Upgrades can lead to more efficient and effective instrument care.

William DeLuca

William DeLuca, CRCST, CHL, CIS


St. Cloud Hospital
SHELF LIFE Storage space shouldn't be at a premium in newly designed departments.

At Mount Sinai West in Manhattan, we just wrapped up a massive $24 million expansion of our sterile processing department that transformed the space from a 2,000-square-foot nondescript work area to a massive 7,000-square-foot high-tech instrument care hub, complete with windows overlooking the bustling New York City streets. With the many details of the upgrade still fresh in my mind, here's what your facility needs to know if you're considering a rebuild or redesign of your SPD.

1. Mapping out workflow

An efficient SPD essentially comes down to two things: process flow and ease of use — how easily staff can get to and operate all of the critical equipment like sterilizers, autoclaves and decontamination workstations. When designing the space, find an open area where you can strategically arrange cardboard boxes that represent pieces of equipment, creating a makeshift space for you and your team to walk through. This is the only time you have the ability to determine exactly how the department's process flow is going to work and the physical act of a walk-through can be invaluable in spotting potential issues and inefficiencies that you'd never uncover from a 2D drawing or blueprint. For example, staff members who are moving instrument trays from a decontamination sink to the instrument washer shouldn't have to walk a long distance to do so. Why? First, that adds inefficiencies to the reprocessing process. Second, the trays tend to be wet and can drip on the floor, creating a potential staff safety issue.

Another pre-planning best practice: Bring in SPD managers and techs from other facilities to give you some fresh ideas. The thinking of staff and management who have worked at your location for many years may be too localized, and some outside perspective could prove valuable.

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