Apr 15, 2021 | Sterile Processing Best Practice

Why You Should Include Audits in Your Sterile Processing Education

Building a culture of continuous improvement in your CSSD is contingent upon many factors—one of those being education. Without investing in ongoing sterile processing education, staff can fall behind on best practices, how to implement those best practices, and how to adjust and change with new technology and regulations.

While every team member should be investing in individual professional education to gain their annual CEs, you can also benefit the entire team with a few key team-wide education initiatives. As an added benefit —doing so can also build and boost team morale! As you plan for ways to get yourself or your staff engaged in sterile processing education, consider starting with audits and then making them a part of your annual team learning. These audits can also spark central sterile planning inspiration as you look for ways to improve the department and its processes.

Why Audits Matter

Conducting audits as a team will help your entire team prepare for any upcoming audits or surveys from regulatory bodies by highlighting areas that need to be fixed. But that’s not all—internal audits can also give your staff a chance to share some ideas on how routines and process steps can be optimized to make daily work smoother and easier for everyone.

How to Make Audits Educational

To make the internal audit process educational, you can start by assigning each team member a specific area of the CSSD. They can then research that area of the department to uncover best practices, standards, guidelines, regulations, etc., and create a scorecard based on those findings. Once each area of the CSSD has its own scorecard, you can walk through the actual auditing process as a team to evaluate what’s working well, what needs to be improved, what’s missing, and what needs to be eliminated.

Or, as an alternative, you could assign each team member one of the governing bodies and task them with researching their common points of evaluation. From there, they can then create a scorecard that the team can use together. Regardless of which method you choose, make sure you take all of the following areas into consideration:

  • Contaminated Instruments (how are they collected and moved around the facility)
  • Cleaning and Decontamination
  • Instrument Inspection and Packaging
  • Sterilization
  • Sterile Storage
  • Instrument Distribution
  • Documentation
  • Department Set-up/Design

From there, once the scorecards are filled out, treat your team to a lunch and learn session to do some sterile processing education and central sterile planning. Review all the scorecards and highlight areas that need to be changed. You can then brainstorm an improvement plan together and also take into consideration some nice-to-have changes or additions that team members suggest. Show your team that you take their feedback and work seriously by following up within a few weeks with all steps of the improvement plan outlined with expected roll-out dates.

Going through a process like this will take time, but don’t be daunted by the commitment. Giving your team a chance to design their own audit process helps them understand the importance of an annual process. It may also encourage each team member to take ownership over an area they’re particularly interested in. Plus, once it comes time for an actual audit or assessment, your team and department will be more ready than ever with all the knowledge to back it up.

If you find you need experts to help you evaluate your department and prepare for an upcoming audit or survey, we have a whole team dedicated to providing these exact services. Our Clinical Services team helps you prepare for accredited surveys, improve your workflows and increase the efficiency of your Central Sterile processing.

You can learn more about our Clinical Services team and their services here.