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Don’t let the Urgent drive out the Important


I often find that departments are so focused on meeting the OR’s needs for the day that they are missing out on what’s most important.

I saw the above saying the other day and thought it was appropriate for sterile processing departments.

I often find that departments are so focused on meeting the OR’s needs for the day that they are missing out on what’s most important. So, this caused me to ask myself, “What really is important to a sterile processing department?” How would you answer that question?

Some of you may say meeting the OR’s or patients’ needs. Others might say quality. A CEO may say happy surgeons, while a manager may say having enough staff.

Are any of these correct? Or, are these outcome measurements that tell us how well we performed the important things?

If your department is focused solely on processing trays, your goal is to fill the case cart needs for tomorrow’s cases and ensure the OR has what they need. I would argue you’re letting the urgent drive out the important.

Here are a few goals that show your department is focusing on what’s important:

  • Ensuring your department is properly staffed and has the capacity to maintain workflow
  • Technicians working and maintaining compliance to standard work instructions
  • Leadership actively managing operational performance
  • Continuously improving

Urgent work focuses on meeting a need now. Important work focuses on ensuring future needs will be met without becoming urgent. You can run around fighting fires all day and urgently meeting your Customer’s needs; or, you can create an environment that meets your Customer’s needs in a predictive and organized manner.

When your department focuses on producing a quality product and service, you’ll find that the urgent starts to diminish into less of a daily issue. Our Customers depend on us to be there when needed, so we’ll never be able to entirely avoid the urgent. Although, how often is the urgent due to not focusing on the fundamentals and taking care of what’s important?

The Urgent The Important
 Searching for missing instruments  Find the root cause for missing instruments
 Cutting corners to meet Customer’s expectations  Train staff and schedule according to volume
 Incurring overtime due to short staffing  Address pay, staff recognition, predictive hiring

Please don’t let the urgent drive out the important. At STERIS IMS, we strive to provide 100% Complete, Sterilized and On-Time Instruments. Perhaps this motto can help you focus on the important.

John Kimsey – National Director, Professional Services

With over 25 years of management and operational experience in healthcare, manufacturing and service, John Kimsey currently leads the STERIS Professional Services Group. His group is tasked with performing strategic studies and overseeing process improvement initiatives in healthcare organizations around the country in order to help ensure regulatory compliance, maximize operating efficiencies, and perform sterile processing with organizational goals and industry mandates in mind.