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Volume Resurgence in the OR: Are you Prepared?

Are you ready for volume resurgence in the OR? The PROCESS PROs have compiled a checklist to help ensure your SPD is prepared.

As we begin to transition back to a more normal schedule in the OR, there may be some things that need to be reviewed in our Sterile Processing Department before ramping up again. Some things to think about for the volume resurgence include:

  • Staffing – Did you lose staff over the course of lay-offs and furloughs? Are they coming back, or did they find employment elsewhere? Do you know how many staff you need to in the department to match case volume resurgence? Do you need to rely on agency staff, and have you spoken with your leadership to make that happen?
  • Performance – Is your staff ready to jump back into productivity, or do they need some training refreshing? This is especially important if you’ve hired new staff or are using agency staff to meet the needs of anticipated volume increases. Plan for some retraining to occur as you begin to bring staff back into production.
  • PPE – We know there has been a shortage of PPE nationwide. Do you have enough essential PPE to protect staff? Do you have a source for supplying PPE so that backlog is not an issue? If using reusable PPE, do you have a sustainable method for cleaning and disinfecting those items? Some staff members may not be comfortable working in this department without wearing masks and gloves in assembly, even if they never wore them before. Make sure you have enough disposable PPE to accommodate if necessary.
  • Supplies – Expiration dates should be reviewed, and any expired supplies discarded. Some items such as Type 1 tapes, Type 5 integrators, and peel packs have expiration dates that must be reviewed before use. If these have expired during the slower period, do you have enough on hand to begin a volume increase? If not, placing an order sooner rather than later is a good idea.
  • Cleanliness of the department – Has your department been maintained in a condition that will allow work to begin, or are there areas that need to be cleaned prior to increasing the work that happens in this department? Think about those areas such as storage shelves or unused areas of the space where dust may have accumulated over time. Tackle that project quickly as you begin to bring staff back. It would also be prudent to have the department thoroughly cleaned by Environmental Services (EVS) or other entity prior moving ahead in full productivity.
  • Equipment – Verify that all equipment is serviced in accordance with original schedules. You may have sterilizers, washers, or other equipment that haven’t been run for several weeks or months. Before you turn those back on, have someone check them to make sure they are functioning properly and ready for the case volume resurgence. Water and steam lines, as well as filters, can clog or produce sediment from water that has been left stagnant. It is best to have a professional test these machines prior to actual use on instrumentation.

These are a few things to consider as we begin to reopen our facilities; you may have thought about others. Take a good look around your department and look for things that need attention before beginning normal operations. The old saying “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still applies!


Catch up on everything you’ve missed on the blog HERE!

Sharon Hadley, RNBSN, CNOR, CFER – Principal Consultant, Professional Services

Sharon Hadley has over 30 years of progressive clinical and management experience in nursing, clinical support services and consulting. She is a proven leader with demonstrated organizational skills. Sharon also has the ability to successfully direct multi-disciplinary teams and analyze and implement process improvement. Her experience in both the SPD and OR provides Sharon the insight to effectively audit sterile processing for areas of improvement.