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Leveraging Lean Six Sigma to Enhance Eye Device Reprocessing: Insights from American Journal of Infection Control Study

Katharine Hoffman, MPH, CIC, LSSGB, and Lisa Waldowski, DNP, RN, CIC, lead a recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control, applying Lean Six Sigma principles to improve eye device reprocessing in health care settings. Though often overlooked, the issue of effectively and safely cleaning, disinfecting, and sterilizing eye devices is a critical aspect of patient safety. The study intends to bridge the existing knowledge gap on this subject by underscoring the adherence to manufacturer instructions and promoting best practices for patient safety.

The lead investigators, Katharine Hoffman, a community health program manager at JPS Health Network, and Lisa Waldowski, executive director of infection prevention and control at Wellstar Health System, highlighted the drive behind this initiative in an interview with Infection Control Today®. According to Hoffman, the project aimed to identify improvement opportunities across their network, with an initial impetus springing from a mock inspection activity and past awareness from The Joint Commission. In addition, the researchers emphasized the challenges associated with understanding complex device instructions and the necessity for clear communication lines with overseas device manufacturers.

The study scope required them to delve into intricate, device-specific instructions and establish a robust communication channel with frontline staff to successfully implement changes. Utilizing Lean Six Sigma methodology, they systematically evaluated the process of non-critical, semi-critical, and critical device processing, taking into account applicable legal regulations, manufacturer guidelines, evidence-based recommendations, consensus documents, facility risk assessments, and established policies and procedures. By integrating instructions for use and evidence-based practices, the team promoted process sustainability, furthermore reducing health care-associated infections and risks to patient safety.


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