Sterilization and reprocessing: a Becker’s 2017 Top 10 Patient Safety Issue

N.B. — This post is one in a series of ten, based on Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality article 10 top patient safety issues for 2017 by Heather Punke & Brian Zimmerman and published on January 18, 2017 (

Sterilization and reprocessing issues. Problems in the sterile processing department can put patients at risk of contracting various infections via surgical tools and medical devices. Hospitals and clinics continued to encounter problems cleaning, reprocessing or sterilizing reusable medical instruments in 2016.

Some of the challenge stems from instrument design … Other issues arose due to lack of training for SPD staff. For example, a state investigation into Detroit Medical Center in fall 2016 found a lack of a ‘robust, consistent, repeatable, comprehensively documented and well-maintained training system’ for central sterile processing employees was one of numerous issues that exposed DMC surgery patients to infection risk.

Hospitals can stymie this problem by ensuring staff are trained properly on the latest sterilization procedures and making it as easy as possible for staff to follow manufacturers’ cleaning instructions.”

Although the foregoing quote from the from the Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality e-publication cited enumerates more problems than solutions, nevertheless the ‘robust, consistent, repeatable, comprehensively documented and well-maintained training system’ that is lacking can be achieved using appropriate information technology (IT) in a manner that effectively automates the required documentation. Such an IT solution would be easily updated and could include an automated process that  would choreograph system and staff actions according to the current documented sterilization standards and best practices. In this way, the sterilization process could not proceed or complete until/unless the specified activities were completed in the order specified and completion was subject to independent validation and verification (IV&V).

An IT solution compliant with the Cloud Healthcare Appliance Real-Time Solution as a Service Reference Architecture (CHARTSaaS RA) can enable automatic sterilization and reprocessing. Please validate this proposition to your own satisfaction by reviewing the details of CHARTSaaS and the CHARTSaaS RA by reviewing these presentations, and then by imagining a CHARTSaaS-enabled IT solution:

Healthcare providers and their patients will benefit significantly from appreciating and then applying a CHARTSaaS RA-compliant IT solution. To do so will mitigate medical mistakes (currently the  third leading cause of patient deaths, per Makaray and Daniel,, thereby minimizing  patient adverse events; and also will optimize clinical case outcomes while maximizing the cost-effectiveness of care and treatment and accelerating the accrual of medical knowledge.



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