Hygiene Assistant

    10 Reasons Why Sterile Processing is the Unsung Hero of Healthcare

    In the bustling world of healthcare, where the spotlight frequently graces doctors, nurses, and cutting-edge technology, we often forget to consider who is behind the scenes making it all possible. This unsung hero is none other than the Sterile Processing Department (SPD) – a critical department that is responsible for making sure that all surgical instruments are free from contaminants and ready for surgery. 

    Let’s dive into 10 reasons why Sterile Processing deserves a big ol’ shoutout and some serious appreciation: 

    1. Highest-Impact Department

    The Sterile Processing Department impacts the most patients in the hospital because they process every surgical instrument that gets utilized. By ensuring that surgical instruments are clean, sterile, and ready for surgery, Sterile Processing impacts the lives of countless patients. No matter the surgical procedure, SPD’s meticulous work is essential to patient safety. 

    2. Enabling Surgical Procedures

    Without Sterile Processing, there is no surgery. Surgery is essential to keeping patients healthy and saving lives. Sterile Processing is the backbone of these procedures, as it ensures that surgical instruments are free from contamination that could lead to dangerous postoperative infections and complications. 

    asian chinese female nurse with PPE Protective workwear cleaning up surgery tools

    3. Guardians of Patient Safety

    An SPD tech’s entire job is to keep patients safe, even if patients don’t know that SPD exists. Patient safety is the most important concern of any healthcare institution. SPD techs operate as the first line of defense against infections and complications that could arise from contaminated instruments used in surgery. Their meticulous attention to detail safeguards patients’ well-being. 

    4. Multifaceted Knowledge Base

    SPD techs have to be knowledgeable in microbiology, chemistry, environmental controls, and sterility assurance. This impressive range of knowledge is essential to ensuring the quality and safety of instruments. 

    5. Embracing On-the-Job Training

    Believe it or not, many SPD techs learned these important scientific subjects on the job without prior experience. Hands-on training combined with studying is what many SPD techs have relied on for years to pass their certification exam. Recently, more Sterile Processing programs have been created at community colleges, in order to help standardize training. 

    6. The Backbone of Surgical Revenue

    Surgery not only improves patients’ lives but also generates revenue, making it a top profit-producing area within healthcare. But, without sterile processing, you can’t have surgery, making sterile processing the backbone of surgery and surgical revenue. 

    7. Physically Demanding Role

    The process of sterilizing instruments is physically challenging. SPD techs consistently have to lift trays that weigh 25 pounds a piece. Some trays come in overweight which requires SPD techs to separate them into different trays. In addition to heavy lifting, SPD techs work in uncomfortable temperatures. Steam autoclaves, which get up to 275 degrees Fahrenheit, are used to sterilize many stainless steel instruments. 

    Close up of dentist's hands taking out sterilizing medical instruments from autoclave.

    8. Bravely Facing Dangers

    SPD techs are exposed to biohazards every single day. SPD techs are susceptible to exposure to all of the diseases and blood-borne pathogens that surgical patients may carry, such as Hepatitis C, COVID-19, and HIV. Also, dealing with sharp instruments can be dangerous. A single accidental poke of a surgical instrument requires an SPD tech to get tested and treated for any possible disease transmission. 

    9. Unseen Heroes During Crises

    The COVID-19 pandemic was a scary time for everyone, and especially scary for healthcare professionals. During the pandemic, SPD techs continued to manually clean and manually scrub instruments. Even though they were at risk of being exposed to COVID-19 through contaminated instruments, they continued to put patient safety first. 

    10. Passion and Dedication

    SPD professionals are some of the most passionate and dedicated individuals in healthcare. Surgery never stops, and neither does SPD. As soon as surgery finishes for the day, SPD is just starting to prepare for the next day. The heart of Sterile Processing lies in the genuine care that SPD techs have for patients and their safety. 

    Washer desinfector for surgical instruments in hospital

    Sterile Processing is a hidden gem in healthcare that deserves recognition and praise for its significant impact on patient safety, surgical success, and overall healthcare operations. These dedicated professionals work tirelessly to ensure that medical instruments are free from contaminants, enabling surgeries that improve and save lives. It’s time to celebrate Sterile Processing – the unsung heroes of healthcare – who continue to make all the difference behind the scenes.