Getting Over Decontam Oversights: How to Help Your CS/SPD Team Never Miss a Microbe


One unseen Fogarty insert that makes its way back to the OR can cost your facility upwards of $10K if it is discovered on the sterile field, not to mention the unthinkable possibility of the instrument being reused on an unknowing patient. I need not even mention the danger lurking in poorly processed Ortho shavers, Andrews suctions, or Kerrison rongeurs...

So how do we ensure that our first line of defense against these processing breakdowns -- our department decontamination areas -- will actually stop these dangers in their tracks? What must CS/SPD leaders and frontline technicians do to break the chain of infection during this critical stage of processing? Here are a few ideas for how to make missing microbes a thing of the past...


1) Stock the Armory: It's Tool Time!


One of the most frustrating positions to be in as a frontline decontamination technician is to be asked to do a job, but not given the tools you need to do the job well. Flush every cannula: but how? Brush every suction: with what? When your team walks into the decontamination area to start the day, it should be fully stocked with every processing tool needed to complete the task laid before them: mass microbial destruction. At the very least, you should have the following items: Brushes of proper style, diameter, and length (including pass-through brushes), adequate flushing technologies (a low tech hose or high-tech flushing system), sinks of adequate height, width, and depth, the proper chemicals, appropriate PPE, sharps container, pre-processing equipment (such as stand alone ultrasonic washers), and any other supplies needed to safely restring and sort stainless steel instruments. Going back to the brushes for a moment, make sure these are organized and easily identifiable. Many an internal scope channel has been damaged by incorrect or compromised brush usage. Make it easy for your team to do the right thing -- and more often than not, they will. 


2) Ensure OR Ownership: First Things Must Be First