Winning the OR Culture Wars: Sterile Processing & Surgeons . . . How You Can Spread the Love


One bad apple can spoil the bunch. And one mad surgeon can, well, we all know what one mad surgeon can do . . .


And there are few better ways to set off a stressed out surgeon than to consistently fail him or her in the area of surgical instrumentation. Whether it's a set that's unsterile for her first case, a scope that is cloudy for the umpteenth time, or an untimely delay in delivering the additional needleholders he needs to replace the ones that aren't locking properly -- understandable frustration is sure to follow. You may not hear the grumbles down in SPD, but the cultural damage is certainly done and it runs deep.


But there's good news. There's light at the end of this gloomy OR hallway. Frustrated surgeons can be won over, and when they are, they can be one of the most powerful agents of change to propel your Sterile Processing department to the forefront of cultural excellence in the minds of the OR team. Let's talk about some key ways your SPD team can get this done . . .


1) Reality Affirming


It's no secret that in most facilities across the country, there is no love lost between the OR and SPD. There are as many reason for this as there are individual departments, but some common threads include: unrealistic expectations between the two departments, high levels of stress on frontline staff to keep productivity high without enough manpower to get it all done, and a somewhat ubiquitous "us vs. them" mentality between OR nurses and SPD technicians. This is reality for most of us, and SPD leaders ignore it at their peril. But just because it's where we start, doesn't mean it's where we must remain.