By Martin Kinnunen
A lot of work in hospitals goes on in
places that patients never see. That’s true at UPMC Presbyterian’s Surgical Central
Processing (SCP), where thousands of surgical instruments, case carts and
related equipment are decontaminated and sterilized daily to handle the
hospital’s busy surgical caseload.
Recent improvements including automation
and computer tracking in the SCP are helping to make the facility more
efficient. It’s all part of an ongoing 30-month renovation program of operating rooms (OR) and related areas that is to be
completed in August 2014.
have made a significant investment in OR renovations. It’s important to upgrade
services such as Surgical Central Processing that support our surgeons, OR
teams, and patients,” says Albert
Wright, UPMC Presbyterian’s vice president of Operations.
The project has proceeded in phases so only two or three ORs have been out of service at any time. Some of the
work completed to date includes the completion of the second-floor Surgical
Family Lounge, the location of which makes it convenient for surgeons to meet
with families, and several universal ORs for use by a variety of surgical
specialties. Upgrades have also been made to preoperative areas and the
Postanesthesia Care Unit.
In the SCP, an automated washer was installed last year that allows technicians to push case carts into
the booth-like washing unit, where they are run through a 12-minute cleaning
cycle. “Previously, this work was done by technicians cleaning on their hands
and knees, which was a very labor-intensive process,” says Mark Lunz, Surgical Central Processing's director.
consistency in the cleaning process and frees up more time for technicians to
assemble case-specific instrument trays or inspect instruments for wear and
damage, Mr. Lunz points out.
of our role is to inspect needle holders, scissors, and many other instruments
to ensure they work the way they are designed to work,” says Mr. Lunz.
“Automation gives us the opportunity to devote more time to this
quality-assurance aspect of our work.”
Paper recordkeeping also is being
phased out. For example, new computer equipment has been installed in a room
where flexible bronchoscopes, gastroscopes, and related devices undergo
cleaning and high-level disinfection. Information such as the name of the
technician cleaning the instrument, patient identifying data, and the scope’s
serial number is documented electronically so it can be retrieved without
searching paper files.
Other plans call for organizing the
sterile storage area as a central repository for instruments and related
supplies. “This reduces the chance that the surgical nurses will have to go on
a hunt-and-gathering mission to find what the surgeon needs. They will know to
come here, and the item can be found quickly, which means more time to focus on
the patient,” says Mr. Lunz.