Feb 6, 2017 | Sterile Processing Analytics Best Practice

Staying On Top of Staff Competencies

Based on data collected during surveys and reviews from January 1 – June 30, 2016, The Joint Commission identified the five most challenging requirements for healthcare facilities (by facility type). One of the standards measured that consistently fell into the top five in terms of non-compliance was an organization’s ability to reduce the risk of infections associated with medical equipment, devices, and supplies, (IC.02.02.02). Here is a summary of the 2016 statistics1:

For most facilities, ensuring the professionals in the Central Sterile Supply Department are trained and competent when it comes to cleaning, disinfecting and sterilizing procedural equipment and instruments is paramount when attempting to remedy these type of statistics. However, finding time to fit training into staff workflow is tough. With this thought in mind, here are a few suggestions related to on-going staff training:

  • Consider designating a seasoned staff member to be responsible for managing, updating, and educating staff on changes to manufacturer IFU documentation at the facility.
  • Use an on-line database service of manufacturer IFU documents such as oneSOURCE.
  • Contact device manufacturer’s and request additional in-servicing and training.
  • Engage your facility’s Infection Preventionist to help identify and champion the department’s needs.
  • Have a different staff member choose and review for the team one competency at every staff meeting.
  • If you do not have an automated surgical asset management system, consider implementing one that offers competency management functionality that can:
    • Provide a tool for managing training, certification, or competency requirements for employees
    • Restrict functional access within the system for a technician to perform tasks if they have not completed the required competency
    • Allow a competency requirement to be set up to control access to workflow processes for assets or asset groupings
    • Offer access to comprehensive reports including:
      • Competency Record – The complete competency training record for each technician
      • Competency Warning Log – A list of warnings issued to technicians who lacked a competency required to access a desired function

With every Central Sterile Supply Department being unique in terms of size and inventory, effectively managing staff competencies will vary from facility to facility. Additionally, state requirements can vary; this year in January, the state of Tennessee joined Connecticut, New Jersey and New York in requiring sterile processing technicians to be certified. The best suggestion is to make on-going staff training a department priority and continue to fine tune what tactics and approaches work best for your employees. A commitment to ensuring staff is properly trained may be an investment, but well worth it. A great quote from the famous motivational speaker and author Zig Ziglar goes like this, “The only thing worse than training employees and losing them, is to not train them and keep them.”