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Teaming Up to Improve Instrument Care
Clear communication and coordination between surgical teams and reprocessing techs streamline the sterilization process.
Dan Cook | Editor-in-Chief
Publish Date: November 15, 2021   |  Tags:   Instrument Reprocessing and Care Workplace Culture
Sterile Processing
WATCH AND LEARN Surgical team members who spend time in sterile processing departments gain an appreciation of how hard reprocessing techs work.   |   Northwell Health

Hardworking professionals in ORs and sterile processing departments should respect each other’s efforts, but consternation between the two groups is often more common than collaboration. Surgical team members don’t always understand the complex workflow of sterile processing departments, says Jon Kraft, BSN, RN, CNOR, central sterile leader for ENT and neurologic surgery at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tenn. “If they need instruments or equipment, they want them now,” he says.

Reprocessing techs, meanwhile, often grow frustrated when their colleagues in the OR don’t treat soiled instruments with enzymatic cleaner to prevent bioburden from drying on the surfaces of the tools, an oversight that makes it much more difficult to remove before the items are sterilized.

Friction can form between both groups when either side doesn’t understand or appreciate the other’s roles and responsibilities, according to Mr. Kraft. “Communication gaps exist when staff members in each department think their roles in patient care are more important, when in fact they aren’t,” he explains.

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