The rush of room turnover can leave surgical teams scrambling to make sure everything has been prepped for a procedure so cases run on-time and efficiently. The last thing they need to worry about is if their instruments and tools have been properly reprocessed and made it to the case without being contaminated.
Many types of quality assurance devices are available to reassured staff, from tags and labeling systems to instrument tracking equipment and biological tests. In an effort to figure out how this final level of quality assurance can be assessed, Surgical Products brainstormed with suppliers. It asked:
How can surgical team members be confident their tools have been properly prepared?
Ralph Basile, vice president of Healthmark Industries, and Matthew Smith, with Healthmark Industries, responded: “Communication by labeling is a key factor in ensuring surgical instruments are safe for use. Determining the status of instruments while being transported between departments can be challenging if they are not properly labeled and identified. By labeling a cart or container ‘biohazard’ upon its return to the sterile processing department, transportation identification tags assist in supplying information to the OR/Procedure Room. Furthermore, it has a check list for the surgical/procedure room/sterile processing team to ensure adequate delivery of the case cart or container in question.”
“Using a label holder that can display pertinent information on nearly any cart or trolley is a great accessory to keep important information.”
“Another key component is security, using tamper-evident locks. They will save time during inventory checks and provide another safety measure to ensure the instruments inside are clean and safe to use.”
“Instrument service tags are another useful tool. By labeling devices that need special handling or even repair is a very important means of alerting sterile processing staff to the devices that need special care.”
“Tags or labels that alert staff that certain instruments are missing from the set is another important means of alerting staff to any issues that need to be addressed prior to surgery.”
Scott Cohen, chief executive office at Innovative Sterilization Technologies, says organizing instrumentation in sterile containers can help make OR turnover more efficient, in addition to reducing the inventory of equipment needed due to potentially misplaced instruments and tools. “Case turnaround has become a difficult process to manage in today’s SPD/OR due to the long cycle times needed for almost all terminal sterilization products,” he said. “Most facilities purchase multiple/redundant instrument sets, power systems, special sets, and retractor systems to meet this demand. The modern SPD has enough inventory and has spent enough money.”
“While sterilization wrap has been the standard in the industry, more and more hospitals are looking to containerization to mitigate the wet loads, torn sterilization wraps, and the increase in immediate-use steam sterilization (IUSS) seen when utilizing this standard sterilization containers. Containerization minimizes those torn wraps and wet loads but still requires more than two hours to process.”
Alisandra Rizzolo, VP and General Manager of Customer Care, Stryker Instruments Division, responded: “Surgical teams need confidence that their instruments and equipment are properly prepared for use whenever they are needed. One way to build this confidence is to implement routine tests and inspections on equipment ranging from scalpels to boom lights. Consistent performance checks on surgical equipment not only help provide staff assurance that the equipment is ready for use, but they can also catch warning signs of looming issues. Routine checks include testing and integrating technology updates, monitoring for damaged parts, blade sharpness and proper lubrication, as well as ensuring instruments have been cleaned and stored properly. If these inspections are missed or poorly performed, equipment may become vulnerable to malfunction, poor performance and early replacement, ultimately putting a patient’s care at risk.”
“In order for routine maintenance checks to be most effective, they need to be performed consistently and accurately. However, with hospital staff having busy schedules and various levels of training and experience, it is not uncommon for these tests to be improperly performed, or worse, not performed at all. Partnering with a dedicated service technician, especially one who has been trained to follow original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) guidelines for care and handling, can ensure that these tests are performed regularly and correctly. A professional service technician’s commitment to the highest equipment care standards allows facilities to maximize uptime and improve a surgical staff’s confidence in the equipment they use to deliver exceptional care every day.”