Recently the spotlight has been focused on the infection control systems and policies of North American hospitals.
What I would like to draw attention to is the Sterile Processing department that is often in an obscure corner of the basement where the infection control battle is fought valiantly every day. The trained M.D.R.D. technologist must effectively decontaminate, clean, inspect and sterilize the instruments for every procedure being performed in that hospital. All behind a controlled access door to ensure nothing can spoil the sterility.
Behind this door there is constant activity that never ceases. It is like the engine room of a ship; the unrelenting work is integral to the whole ship moving forward and any downtime has a trickledown effect that brings everything to a halt eventually. So what can be done to prevent downtime?
Behind these doors, most staff will be on their feet all day next to either a table or sink. If everyone was exactly the same height, then all tables and sinks could be the same height but we know that isn't the case. The next time you are working at the kitchen sink and you are slightly hunched over and reaching down into the sink, ask yourself "What would it be like to work like this for 2-3 hours at a time, every working day of your life?". The end result will be fatigue and possibly repetitive strain injury. This is only one example of many, where ergonomics play a significant part in the efficiencies, the potential downtime and the quality of work in Sterile Reprocessing. Height adjustable work stations and sinks will make a huge difference in this example.
More Efficient Work Space
If you have ever helped design a kitchen with a professional, you will remember the considerations to how many footsteps it will take to get from your main work areas to the appliances. If you space it to close, it is claustrophobic feeling and if you place it too far, it will be tiring to work in. The same applies to the MDRD. How many footsteps are required between supplies and workstations?
Fatigue is the margin for error that no one wants in the MDRD. Better workspaces will improve efficiencies, ergonomics and infection control standards. Many have had to make changes due to accreditation standards, and in the process of replacing wood furnishings and other non-sterile items, have found a huge benefit in a design that encompasses these three considerations.