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Pardon the Interruption: Distractions in the SPD

Pardon the Interruption! By organizing processes in the SPD, you can improve productivity and quality. Read how organizations can streamline distractions.

A process can be a series of steps that produce a result, such as the steps taken in a Sterile Processing department to clean, assemble and sterilize a tray. A process can also be the specific steps to do a single task, such as cleaning an instrument. I also realized, a process can be how you organize your processes! A Sterile Processing Department is filled with distractions that interrupt these processes. So pardon this interruption, but it’s time to cut the distractions!


I recently met with a CS leadership team that is responsible for processing over 600 trays a day. We talked about how to reduce the interruptions in the department and improve the technicians’ productivity and quality. Our discussion centered on how we could organize our processes so that the technicians wouldn’t have to leave their workstations or be interrupted. The answer was the creation of a Navigator work assignment.


In Decontamination, we consolidated all non-sink tasks into one person’s responsibility and called that person, or work assignment, the Decontamination Navigator. This person receives all case carts, scans the trays, breaks down the containers, loads the cart washer, audits the trays for correct return protocol from the OR, and then distributes trays to the technicians at the sinks. The sink technicians no longer need to leave their station and can now focus on their task without being interrupted.


In Assembly, we also consolidated all non-assembly tasks into an Assembly Navigator work assignment that allowed technicians to remain at their tables working. If the phone rang, the Navigator answered it. If the washer unloaded, the Navigator emptied it. If the OR came looking for an instrument tray, the Navigator intercepted them before they could interrupt an assembly technician. The Navigator prioritized the work and staged it for the assembly technicians. The result was a productive and non-interrupted work environment.


By organizing our processes better, we were able to improve productivity and quality. We didn’t add more work or create a new position. All we did was organize existing processes.


So, pardon the interruption, but I hope this PROCESS PROs tip helps you think how you can better organize your processes to improve performance and reduce the interruptions! For more helpful tips like these, click HERE.

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.