As stated in our previous blog post, if you are an OR nurse or technician and the Sterile Processing Department is not functioning at its full potential, you feel it with all its knock-on effects. Failure to deliver what you need when you need it places additional stress on an already stressful day and can ultimately impact patient care.
We all know what it feels like to work with people we see aren’t working as hard as we are. Those who come in to work, spend the first hour of their work day chatting up coworkers about their previous evening’s plans and then slowly start getting down to business only to take a break soon after the first hour. All of this is happening while you’re toiling away, being productive and pulling the extra weight that they seem to have dropped heavily on the floor. To make matters worse, no one seems to notice. This can manifest itself in Sterile Processing Department as much as it is in other departments, maybe your own.
When no one is monitoring staff productivity, it can lead to an erosion of trust in leadership along with depleting staff morale. Few things feel worse than knowing you’re outperforming your co-workers while they reap the same rewards and none of the consequences. It can lead you to feel that your time and efforts can be better spent elsewhere.
All departments of the hospital should have effective leadership that monitors the productivity of the team, but especially in the SPD. The Sterile Processing Department is essential to making sure that cases start on time with the correct sterilized equipment, making efficiency essential. Without everyone on the same page, working at the same pace, everything falls apart.
Leaders should hold each staff member to the same standard of work output to ensure the work gets done in an efficient and safe manner. This will lead to a more satisfied staff and will reduce staff burnout and turnover, and happier customers in the OR.
That’s great, but how?
Staff productivity should be monitored and published on a daily basis. This can be done using an electronic instrument tracking system, or manually. Trays and peel-packs may be divided into complex, intermediate and simple categories for the assembly technicians and target metrics set those, and for the decontamination and sterilization areas.
However, publishing results isn’t enough. Each staff member’s efficiency should be reviewed to ensure there are no barriers or education gaps to be addressed. If there are consistent issues, they should be addressed in a timely manner to ensure minimal lag in progress. Follow through is important in holding each individual staff member accountable, the time spent will be worth it.
The greater reach of productivity
With these issues resolved and everyone feeling they are working as team with the same work ethic and rewards, you will have a more efficient team, fewer mistakes and a happier, more engaged staff.
Not only will this lead to a happier staff, you’ll have better educated technicians who can communicate their needs and deliver quality work to their partners in the operating room.
A productive and happy SPD workforce will manifest itself in the OR to the staff and physicians as the delivery of a seamless service. What the staff and leadership will notice in return is a reduction in complaints and irate phone calls from the OR. The OR gets what they need when they need it and patient care is kept front and center of all we do, and that’s just how we like it.
Don’t miss out on other areas of improvement for the Sterile Processing Department, read the first two blogs in this series: Sterile Processing: Helping Improve the Life of an Operating Room Nurse and Speak the Language: Translating OR Needs into SPD Requirements
Subscribe to our blog to ensure you don’t miss out on future perioperative performance improvement solutions.
You may also contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this and other OR efficiency enhancement ideas.