by Rose Seavey MBA, BS, RN, CNOR, CRCST, CSPDT President/CEO Seavey Healthcare Consulting, LLC
Sterile processing continues to gain momentum within the healthcare environment as media coverage of its importance increases. As Sterile Processing Department (SPD) professionals, it is your responsibility to ensure your patients receive the safest possible care. Working toward continuous quality improvement means knowing and following the most current evidence-based guidelines (EBG), standards and recommended practices such as those from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI).

Following EBG can often mean changes to well-established historical practices some of which could be “sacred cows” (unquestioned practices that have been in place for a long time). Executing change is difficult especially when the adjustments affect other people or other departments, even if the change is scientifically proven as a safer practice. Therefore, collaboration with our colleagues is necessary to make strides in our improvement efforts, especially if additional resources (e.g., equipment, human) will be needed.

When changes for improving patient safety are met with resistance, a multidisciplinary committee that understands the most current guidelines can help break through the opposition. If an individual or department presents a challenge, it is imperative that evidence be shared regarding the reason for the change and why the new policy or procedure is necessary for safe patient care.

One case in point is the effort to reduce immediate-use steam sterilization (IUSS) cycles. Since IUSS cycles are usually preformed in the operating room (OR) suite, SPD needs the OR’s support to establish the changes. The change efforts will involve the operating room and may need the support of infection prevention staff as well. Another such effort is moving all endoscope reprocessing under CS for standardization and consistency. Of course this change may involve the GI lab, Respiratory Therapy, Anesthesia and Urology, as well as Infection Prevention. Therefore, changes like reducing IUSS or putting endoscope reprocessing under SPD will require a multidisciplinary team to update the policies and procedures based on EBG. This team should then educate all affected staff members on the changes to the policies. The education should include the rationale for the changes and the evidence behind it. People are usually more compliant with new procedure changes when they understand the reason behind the updates.

Rose Seavey MBA, BS, RN, CNOR, CRCST, CSPDT is the President/CEO of Seavey Healthcare Consulting, LLC, and formerly the Director of the Sterile Processing Department at The Children’s Hospital of Denver. Ms. Seavey served on the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Board of Directors from 2008-2010. She received AORN’s award for Outstanding Achievement in Mentorship in 2012 and the Outstanding Achievement in Clinical Nurse Education in 2001.
In 2003 Rose served as President of the American Society of Healthcare Central Service Professionals (ASHCSP) and was awarded the National Educator of the Year award in 2002. Rose was selected as one of the Who’s Who in Infection Prevention in 2006 by Infection Control Today.
Ms. Seavey also received the 2013 national IAHCSMM Award of Honor, the Industry Leadership Award from the Massachusetts chapter and the Educator of the Year Award from the Golden West chapter.
Ms. Seavey has over 110 publications and is the author of the book titled Sterile Processing In Healthcare Facilities: Preparing for Accreditations Surveys, published by AAMI. She sits on the AAMI National Nominating Committee for 2011-2014 and co-chaired the AAMI Working Group for Hospital Steam Sterilizers from 2006-2013. She is a member of several AAMI working group committees and is on the ST79 Advisory Council (2013-2015). In addition, she has given over 300 presentations nationally and internationally.