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Accrediting Organizations and Sterile Processing

Accrediting Organizations and Sterile Processing
Accrediting Organizations and Sterile Processing

[Should we "fear the clipboard?" Why do some of us scatter when we hear "The surveyors are here"....? Is there a better way? The following guest article by Nicole Walley CRCST, CIS, CHL seeks to speak into this conversation with insight and balance. We hope you enjoy! * Beyond Clean Editors]

 Written by Nicole Walley CRCST, CIS, CHL, TechNicole Solutions, LLC “Get Technical with TechNicole" & Member of the Beyond Clean Advisory Group


         As a traveling sterile processing technician, I have been in many a facility that are in their window for survey, and many that have had their survey in my time while on contract. It seems that for some reason the surveyors are drawn to me, or maybe I’m accidentally making eye contact (haha). I love talking to surveyors. In the grand scheme of the scope of our job as sterile processing technicians, I find their questions to be either odd, or very surface level, which leads me to have the belief that the people being sent to audit sterile processing, though very smart individuals, are not up to speed regarding the full scope and the important details of our work. This includes the standards and guidelines that we should be following in our processes.

Do the surveyors really know enough?
How accurate are the survey findings?


Most facilities that need travelers are struggling with concerns far beyond just needing the extra hands of staff on deck, and I feel honored that I have been called to these hospitals and healthcare facilities. In these facilities that are in their window for survey, many of the staff in sterile processing think, hope, and pray that the accrediting organization’s findings are going to bring about drastic and positive change to make their work environment safer and bring a higher level of training and efficiency to their department. They are hoping because they haven’t been heard, that the survey will speak for them. You can only imagine the disappointment, shock, and emptiness that follows when the survey is over and the accrediting organization’s surveyors leave. The word from hospital leadership is that they passed with flying colors. All the hope that was held onto that the survey would validate what the sterile processing technicians have been voicing to leadership, is crushed. Sterile processing technicians are left confused and asking themselves how these high-level concerns that have fell on deaf ears of hospital leadership could have been missed by accrediting organizations whose responsibility it is to hold them accountable.


Should having a certain amount of experience in the area that you are surveying be a requirement to survey for the accrediting organization?


         After being witness to this time and time again, I was finally asked the GOLDEN QUESTION by a surveyor (whose only questions for me in this struggling department were regarding the expiration dates on the steam integrators and if I liked working at this facility.) She thanked me for my time, and asked “Do you have any questions for me?” to which I responded “Yes I do. What is your experience working in sterile processing?” to which she replied, “I have never worked in sterile processing but I greatly respect what you do. I have a master’s degree which is required to work for (insert accrediting organization name here.)”

It seems to me this is true for many surveyors, as I have witnessed surveyors harping on minor issues such as the container holding your integrators, meanwhile your staff in decontamination aren’t even wearing the required PPE, or its 80 degrees Fahrenheit in decontamination.


Why is a master’s degree required to be a surveyor for certain accrediting organizations?
How are accrediting organizations providing accurate findings and reports by having surveyors audit in areas that they are not experienced in?


I think there is an opportunity for accountability here. Healthcare facilities pay big bucks to maintain accreditation through these organizations, whose supposed mission is to help healthcare facilities deliver the best quality care for their patients, and create and maintain a culture of excellence that is based on constant improvement. If you cannot deliver an accurate finding report because you don’t know what you are looking for HOW are you actually ensuring quality and a culture of excellence for the healthcare facilities and departments within that you are accrediting? Can’t we as healthcare facilities and healthcare workers advocate for change? Healthcare systems are held accountable by these organizations. I think it is time we hold them accountable as well to providing surveyors that are experienced in the areas that they are surveying. We deserve accurate findings reports, we deserve to talk to surveyors who know what they are looking for and what to ask facility wide and this includes the heart of the hospital, sterile processing.   


If you have comments or questions for Nicole, you can reach her through Linkedin by visiting her profile here. We'd love to hear your own perspectives and experiences with your surveyors in the comments below, or anywhere you find this article on social media. Thanks for reading!



1 comentário

tannu gujjari
tannu gujjari
13 de mai.

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