60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, ABC Nightline or even the front page of your local newspaper -- I'm about to give you five easy ways to get your SPD team immediate media coverage. Not only can you become more well-known than Charlie and the evolution of dance guy overnight, every single one of these tips is super easy to do, and they're almost guaranteed to land your facility a top spot on the nightly news. So sit back, take a few notes, and prepare to make headlines...
1) Compromise Your Staffing
This first tip for instant media coverage is actually one of the easiest to accomplish, especially in light of the recent announcement by CMS of the 1.5% cut to hospital reimbursements. All you have to do is put your CS/SPD positions on the chopping block, stop approving any replacement positions, and by all means, do not create any new, unbudgeted support positions.
Not only will this decision save a little money on the front end, it will negatively impact the critical instrument processing arm of the Operating Room (which is the primary revenue-driver for most facilities), while also ensuring frontline SPD technician burnout, unhealthy levels of overtime, leadership exodus, and yes -- quality breakdowns. And we all know that nothing draws media attention faster than a good old-fashioned staffing-related quality concern. If your facility is at a loss for how to stir up some media air-time, make sure to ignore your staffing needs in SPD.
2) Compromise Your Training
While this second tip is not as flashy as overall staffing levels, it's just as potent a force to ensure the kind of media attention we're discussing. If you want to create an atmosphere where a sentinel event is just around the corner, few decisions are as effective as deciding to compromise your CS/SPD training program. Rather than invest in dedicated preceptors or staff educators, make new employee training an afterthought in your department. Assume untrained technicians can learn through osmosis or simply by 'asking questions if they don't know,' but don't give them any kind of structured orientation on the equipment, chemicals, or regulatory guidelines needed to adequately do the job. Don't require certification as a condition of employment, and make sure to schedule your newbies on weekends, by themselves, as quickly as possible. Nothing sets the stage better for a headline-grabbing medical error than putting someone in a position of great responsibility without the training they need to safely do the job.
3) Compromise Your Repairs
If staffing models and training are out of your control, try compromising your instrument repairs. After all, your instruments are the only things that actually touch a patient in your department, so there is no easier way to create a media frenzy than by having poorly-repaired instruments being used on moms, dads, sons, and daughters. If you want to go for media gold, don't repair your instruments at all or do so on a very limited basis.
Make sure you use a cut-rate instrument repair company, with uncertified repair technicians, little industry training, and improper repair equipment. Don't spend any time teaching your own techs how to identify hairline cracks in box locks or needle holder inserts, and definitely do not insist on visually inspecting arthroscopic shavers or testing laparoscopic instrumentation. Teach your team to settle for scopes, clamps, scissors, and retractors that are 'good enough.' If you execute this approach well enough, you won't only save money, you might even get yourself an invite to the