IPs Should Serve in Off-Site Sterilization Policy Development/Compliance

The infection preventionist’s role extends far beyond simply surveillance activities and into an integrated member of design and operations.

Because instrument sterilization is a key operational need for every health care facility–regardless of size–offering surgical or other invasive procedures, the location of that sterilization process is completed is important for an infection preventionist and an operations manager to be involved in sterilization operations. The process, the operations manager, the infection preventionist, and, most importantly, the patient will benefit from the collaboration of infection preventionists and operations managers and their learning about the benefits of integrating operating models.

Several different operating models are available for operating models, including 1 hospital site central processing department (CPD) and 1 ambulatory facility CPD. Jenny Hayes, MSN, RN, CIC, CAIP, CASSPT, and the infection preventionists RN, Clinical IV at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, spoke about this topic in her presentation at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2022 Annual Conference, held June 13-15, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Hayes’ presentation titled, “Moving Sterilization Off-Site,” discussed the challenges and role of infection prevention in both design and sterilization operations.

Hayes spoke with Infection Control Today® (ICT®) at the conference and stated what she hoped for both APIC attendees and ICT®’s readers learn from her presentation. “The integrated operations models serve as an interface to a single entity model in a horizontally-integrated health care system. Infection preventions serves in policy development and compliance to include the additional measures of instrument handling and transport offsite.”

Hayes does caution, though, that off-site sterilization cannot be the sole sterilization for any sized facility. “This does not eliminate on-site sterilization as that will always be need in case of inclement weather, delays, and emergencies. High level disinfection of endoscopes should also remain onsite due to the required 1- to 2-hour timeframe from scope-use to full decontamination of the endoscope.”


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