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Demystifying Sterile Processing: Do Operating Room Personnel Grasp Its Complexities?

One essential but often misunderstood department within a hospital setting is the Sterile Processing Department (SPD), a crucial contributor to the effective functioning of Operating Rooms (ORs). While OR personnel rely heavily on SPD for their requisite surgical instruments, the underlying question remains – Do they truly comprehend the intricacies involved in a successful SPD operation? Infection Control Today® (ICT®) engaged in an illuminating conversation with Mr. John Kimsey, the vice president of processing optimization and customer success at Steris, a medical equipment company. He enlightened the audience about SPD’s hidden complexities and his innovative simulation game at the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) International Conference and Expo, which took place from March 9, 2024 to March 12, 2024 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Although the OR and SPD are collaborative entities by necessity, the bandwidth of OR personnel’s understanding of SPD’s work remains uncertain. Kimsey’s captivating interview unveiled the inception of this unique SPD simulation game, its crucial insights, and the diverse aspects of the game which were presented at the said conference.

Central to Kimsey’s exposition is the ‘SPD Simulation game,’ a dynamic, hands-on, audience-participation activity designed to be both immensely enjoyable and informative, aiming to bolster comprehension of sterile processing. The engagement being far from a run-of-the-mill presentation, it propounds the concept of ‘Skills to Use Hands-on Learning.’ This initiative finds realization in the Expo Hall, wherein an actual full-size replication of a sterile processing department is set up to facilitate audience participation and learning. The gameplay, illustrative of various SPD intricacies, involves participants pretending and attempting to run an actual SPD, ultimately unraveling its many layers. Participants interact with simulated SPD setup components such as sinks, washers, sterilizers, and the like, competently engaging in a time-bound exercise of processing 200 instrument trays. It’s noteworthy that the exercise’s timings are accelerating, with 15 real-life minutes condensing into game-world seconds.

Kimsey’s assertive stand was that this intensified simulation exercise was educational for both the participants and the audience. Through struggle and activity, they gain insights into SPD while enjoying the process. An informative discussion concludes the simulation game, rounding up the learning experience.

Another crucial discussion at the conference revolved around hand hygiene practices in the OR, which remains the easiest and most effective prophylactic against health care-associated infections, specifically surgical site infections. Yet adherence rates among health care workers hovered below expectation at 60-70%, demanding urgent attention.

Source: https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/playing-a-game-for-perioperative-nurses-about-the-sterile-processing-department

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