Sterile processing departments are, more often than not, underserved by their administrative leaders. In many cases, this is resultant from two specific reasons: 1) Lack of understanding on the part of hospital and other healthcare leaders of the invaluable role played by the sterile processing department and; 2) the fact that SPDs are non-revenue generating departments but rather result in a heavy financial “burden” to a facility. Never mind that the departments serviced by the sterile processing department are generally all revenue generating and, as such, when sterile processing is less than efficient with respect to productivity, actual revenue generation may be impacted in the respective service areas.
The results of such thinking as above are all too typical-understaffed SPDs, reduced productivity, process failures, increased error rate (and reduced risk to patients), etc. Rather than seeking long-term solutions to such issues (e.g., hiring on more staff, providing for material needs of the department) administrators all too often seek short-term solutions such as outside, independent third-party consultants.
There are several major issues with utilization of third-party consulting firms and such consulting bodies that the administrator need consider. First and foremost, most so-called SPD consultants in the employee of third-party consulting firms are either not actively engaged in the field of SPD or unqualified. Second, most of the consulting programs offered by such vendors are merely a service created as an entry point into a facility to garner business and vend more profitable products, e.g., repair services, instrumentation sales, etc. Such platforms typically lack substance and cause more harm than good in the SPD department.
Another issue with such vendor provided SPD consulting is that of cost. Programs like these often require that a facility commit to a lengthy contract involving substantial cost. The problem with this is that, a true expert in the field of sterile processing, one who is both qualified and has extensive experience within the department, could enter a department, evaluate and diagnose the problem areas, and present solutions to correction in very short time frame (at most a couple of weeks) and of course this could be done at a fairly reasonable cost. This is so in that problems in the sterile processing department tend to be universal and readily amendable by a qualified consultant. Vendor solutions are not so geared as to provide quick and cost effective evaluations and corrections.
The above issues have emerged in large part because there was, until recently, no regulation or set standard for those marketing themselves as professional SPD consultants. Now, however, this is changing with the emergence of professional SPD consulting certification, made available to qualified individuals currently working in the field with options available for vendors as well.
When seeking out a consultant, ensure that the potential candidate holds the Certified Professional SPD Consultant credential. The Certified SPD Consultant credential was launched by the Advisory Board of the Central Sterile Processing Initiative with the goal of standardizing and elevating the profession as well as providing a standard of competency to ensure that a quality product is maintained in sterile processing consulting.
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