April Showers Bring May Flowers by Maintaining Washer Compliance
The month of April typically comes with lots of rain. That rain hydrates the ground, nourishes the soil, and allows for flowers to bloom. So, as we spring into May and look forward to seeing the flowers bloom let this be your department’s time of year to think about water and washers. Your department can flourish by performing recommended tests, cycles, and inspections. Add to this complete documentation and you have compliance which is the beautiful flower that blooms when everything is correctly completed.
Washer Testing and Load Documentation
Have you ever wondered why we result sterilizers but not washers? After a sterilizer load completes the pass/fail is documented, the cycle the load was processed on is documented, and any indicators (Bowie-Dick or biological) are documented. So why don’t we do this for washers? Did you know AAMI ST79 (2017) states that verification of the cleaning processes should be documented and that the wash cycle should be reviewed and initialed by the operator to indicate the appropriate cycle was used for cleaning?
So what does this mean? Think of sterilization and resulting the load. The same process should be completed for all mechanical washers, cart washers, and ultrasonic cleaners. The pass/fail, the cycle (e.g. instruments, ORTHO, eyes, basin), and indicators/wash test should all be documented. In addition to this, you should be scanning the container to the Decontam module in CensiTrac. This module allows you to see specific cleaning instructions, resets the lifecycle of a container sequence, documents in the container history that it was cleaned, and staff receive productivity credit for their work. Who doesn’t want credit for the work they do?
AAMI ST79 also states that mechanical cleaning equipment should be tested each day it is used. This includes cart washers, mechanical washers, and ultrasonic cleaners. Many times, a daily wash test is not performed in the cart washer because people think it’s not needed since they don’t wash instruments in the cart washer. But think about this, if you don’t perform testing how do you know your carts, rigid containers, and basins are getting cleaned?
Inspections and Cleaning
Did you know that cleaning the washer drain/screen and inspecting the spray arms is a requirement that must be done at least daily? Are you documenting that this requirement has been completed? Because you know the saying, “If you didn’t document it, it didn’t happen.” You can use CensiTrac’s Efficiency Task List module for this documentation, helping to make sure you’re 100% compliant by setting up an exception report that lets you know when it’s not completed by a certain time. Then you have someone perform the task, document it, and you have electronic reporting with a user, date, and time stamp.
When’s the last time you read the manual/IFU for your washers? Many facilities are not performing a descaler/decontamination cycle in the mechanical and cart washers, and most, if not all, machines require this cycle at least weekly. This is an excellent way to remove the residue that accumulates from water and chemicals. What’s even better is documenting this requirement in CensiTrac is easy. Just add a Decontamination/Descaler cycle to the machine and staff select this cycle when documenting the load. You can then create a report that’s only for that cycle so when a credentialing agency asks to see the documentation you have it in a matter of seconds.
Now it all makes sense but with a staffing shortage who has time for this work. CensiTrac to the rescue. With a simple scan to the Decontam module, you’ve just documented that the container was cleaned. You already know how to build a sterilizer load and guess what, building a washer load is exactly the same. Even better, is that when documenting a washer load, it’s similar to a sterilizer load, so this means minimal training, increased compliance, and all in a very short amount of set-up time.
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