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Lighting in Sterile Processing

Updated: Mar 10, 2022


On numerous occasions, I have found Central Sterile Processing Departments (CSSD) to have inadequate lighting. Engineering firms lack the knowledge of the detailed inspections in Sterile Processing and design the workspaces to meet general workspace guidelines or, at best general inspection guidelines. The lighting is often underrated by over a 100-foot candle output. The Sterile Processing department needs to be designed with greater light intensity to create a more productive and safer environment.

Areas of detailed inspection include both the sink areas in the decontamination room and the preparation and packaging area. Recommended guidelines for detailed inspection from The Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) is 100-foot candles for the least amount of light to 200-foot candles at the highest recommendation, which is twice the amount recommended light for general inspection in both cases. Ancillary lighting, which can be attached to workstations and even built into sinks, is often added into the lighting equation by engineers. My recommendation is to leave it out of the equation. Sink lighting often doesn't reach into the area needed for inspection, and stainless steel workstation surfaces often reflect the lighting into the inspector's eyes if not positioned well, causing staff to turn it off.

Increased departmental operating costs created by poor lighting can include staff injuries, lower productivity, and quality issues with trays. Staff injuries increase costs with lost time at work, medical care, loss of staff output, and increased staffing costs. Lower productivity can result in OR case issues with slower instrument turn-around, creating a loss of OR minutes. Quality issues with trays can cost OR time and, more importantly, patient care issues and possible lawsuits.

Be vigilant with construction designs and spend time with your engineering teams to discuss lighting needs and the placement of lighting fixtures. If you need to rectify existing issues work with your facilities teams to replace lighting fixtures or, at a lower cost, evaluate bulb choices to increase your lighting capabilities. Lastly, purchase inspection tools that have a light feature built into them for increased visualization.

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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