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Winning the OR’s Heart

Does your Sterile Processing Department have a positive relationship with the OR?

Everyone needs positive PR from time to time. Google public relations, and you’ll find the definition as “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.”  I’ve added emphasis on favorable.


Now stop and think how many Sterile Processing Departments (SPD) have a favorable image in the mind of their largest Customer, the OR.  The majority might have a neutral image; however, several have a negative image, while only a few have a favorable image. So how does a SPD gain and maintain a favorable image? I think the answer is as simple as this: Your image is a reflection of what your Customer sees, experiences, and acknowledges you doing for them.


If they don’t see you helping them, then they don’t associate you with helping them. If they don’t directly experience your presence and assistance, then you were never there.  If they don’t acknowledge your work and partnership, then they haven’t developed a favorable impression of you.  To summarize in reverse, if you’re doing everything behind the scenes, you’ll get very little favorable PR. Your Customer won’t realize how much you’ve done to help them. Therefore, how do we ensure the OR sees, experiences, and acknowledges the great work Sterile Processing does 24/7?


  1. The OR needs to see you in their environment.  Sterile Processing leadership (OR Liaison positions) must round in the OR daily, directly asking their Customer how instrumentation and service are. Ask the OR if there is anything you can do for them. Ensure they see you helping them be successful. Help them see how the SPD is adding value to their work every day.

  2. Make sure they experience good work directly. STERIS employs OR Liaisons to ensure case carts are complete and accurate, the OR has what they need, and issues are immediately addressed in real time. If the OR experiences you in a time of need (even if you’re the cause), they will understand that you are there to help. They’ve experienced the impact. This is not the same as the OR picking up the phone and asking for something. This is the real-time presence of someone in the OR addressing and helping solve issues. How many times do nurses complain about not being able to find an instrument tray? Even if they are the ones who misplaced it. We can provide a valuable service by being present in the moment with them to solve the issue.

  3. Ensure the OR acknowledges your help. Too often, those who helped are forgotten as the crisis fades and another OR procedure starts. Take the time to document what you’ve done. In your daily / weekly meetings with the OR (which you’re having, right?), take the time to discuss what happened in a manner where OR acknowledges your contribution. The best way for them to develop a favorable image of you is to verbalize what you’ve done.

I hope this helps generate ideas on how you can engage with the OR in a manner that helps develop a positive and favorable public image of your SPD.

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.