LewisGale Medical Center Sterile Processing

This project focused on re-designing workflows in the central sterile processing department.

We evaluated workflows, changing how both materials and staff moved through the department. This improved staff efficiency and morale, and reduced instrument flash rates.

The flow of clean instruments through the department is now more logical, and previous backwards flow and bottlenecks have been eliminated.

Key Issues Tackled by this Project

  • Ineffective workflow, causing excessive movement and safety issues;
  • Disorganized workstations for assembly and wrap, leading to searching;
  • Sterile storage in a busy area of the department; and
  • Poor internal communication with OR staff, causing staff dissatisfaction and excessive instrument flashing.

Project Results

  • More complete trays;
  • Better flow of materials and staff; and
  • Lower instrument flash rates

                                    

Before

The old assembly area had perpendicular benches, impeding workflow out of washers.

The old assembly area had perpendicular benches, impeding workflow out of washers. (Photo: Keith Poole)

After

The new assembly area allows for better workflow and bench workstations are standardized.

The new assembly area allows for better workflow and bench workstations are standardized. (Photo: Keith Poole)

Before

Previous poorly-utilized space at end of assembly area.

Previous poorly-utilized space at end of assembly area. (Photo: Keith Poole)

After

Wrap area relocated to end of assembly area.

Wrap area relocated to end of assembly area. (Photo: Keith Poole)

                                  

Before

Excess supplies were kept in the workspace and there was no designated vendor tray area.

Excess supplies were kept in the workspace and there was no designated vendor tray area. (Photo: Keith Poole)

After

Excess supplies removed and a new vendor tray area was created.

Excess supplies removed and a new vendor tray area was created.
(Photo: Keith Poole)

                                    

Before

Sterile items stored in high-traffic area by department office / entrance.

Sterile items stored in high-traffic area by department office / entrance. (Photo: Keith Poole)

After

The peel pack station was relocated to this area.

The peel pack station was relocated to this area.
(Photo: Keith Poole)

Before

Cluttered wrap staging; wrap table too far from assembly area.

Cluttered wrap staging; wrap table too far from assembly area.
(Photo: Keith Poole)

After

A new sterile storage area was created here.

A new sterile storage area was created here.
(Photo: Keith Poole)

Before

Sterile items were moving backwards into the autoclave staging area.

Sterile items were moving backwards into the autoclave staging area. (Photo: Keith Poole)

After

Now there is a clear autoclave staging area and sterile items are moved to the new sterile storage area to cool.

Now there is a clear autoclave staging area and sterile items are moved to the new sterile storage area to cool. (Photo: Keith Poole)

As part of our process improvement efforts, we engage the staff. Those closest to the work know best about what is causing stress in the system. By sharing best practices from other hospitals, staff can imagine how things could run more smoothly in their operations.

The central sterile processing department process map created by staff.

The central sterile processing department process map created by staff.
Green = timeline; Yellow = process step; Blue = opportunity for improvement; Orange = potential solution.
(Photo: Keith Poole)