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2021 Round-Up of Sterile Processing Findings

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

A recent Joint Commission article outlined the most common findings in Ambulatory Surgical Centers. (

The areas that were most cited were:

  • environment of care (EC)

  • infection control (IC)

  • human resources (HR)

Ensure compliance when reprocessing reusable medical devices, including but not limited to:

  • ultrasound probes

  • instruments used for surgery and/or procedures

  • other reusable patient care equipment

Evolved Sterile Processing Consulting worked with several healthcare facilities in 2021 and has listed below the most common issues found in the sterile processing department:

  • Training & documentation of orientation

  • Competency documentation

  • Policies and Procedures

  • Improper use of chemicals

  • Improper lighting

  • IUSS Sterilization documentation and tracking

  • Lack of supply receiving space

  • Transporation of soiled items

  • Lack of point of use preparation in the OR and Clinical spaces

  • Staff understanding how to read sterilization printouts

  • Improper testing of rigid containers

  • Poor instrument repair management systems

  • Following manufacturer's instructions for use (MIFU)

  • Lack of best practice resources

  • New product evaluation

The infection control practices in healthcare settings continue to be problematic during CMS surveys. Often, the sterile processing departments are understaffed and undermanaged. The sterile processing department (SPD) has a pivotal job protecting the patients from acquiring hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). In 2021 the lack of supplies affected resources for reprocessing reusable medical devices, and 2022 isn't faring any better. The SPD department was also turned to for the reprocessing of N95 masks. This change opened some eyes to how important this department is to the overall functioning of the hospital setting. Overall, more resources need to be given to SPD. Education for the SPD staff and management teams is lacking. An adage goes, "you need to spend money to make money." The sterile processing department is an excellent place to put your money. The department protects your patients and your staff and carries significant legal ramifications if it doesn't follow national standards and manufacturer's instructions. The other adage that applies is "pay me now or pay me later"; it's your choice. I would choose the SPD department.

At Evolved Sterile Processing, our consultants have a greater focus on sterile processing. With our decades of experience, we will help you develop better processes and educational resources for your staff.

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