Improving Your Sterile Processing Department Starts with Focusing on the Fundamentals

By August 18, 2016Articles

Bill Bynum
President, Surgical Services
August 18, 2016

Excellence in sterile processing management (SPM) is fundamental to a well-run operating room. It supports on-time starts, surgeon satisfaction, and overall efficiency—all of which translate to financial results. But, most importantly, effective sterile processing management reduces the occurrence of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs), which can significantly harm the patients entrusted to your care.

According to Infection Control Today, surgical site infections (SSIs) account for 31 percent of all healthcare-acquired infections. Of the 157,000 patients that are adversely affected each year, about 1,500 people die. In addition to the cost of lives and other less-than-optimal outcomes caused by SSIs, hospitals and health systems face between $10,443 and $25,546 in expenses for each occurrence. This totals more than $4 billion annually.

It’s no wonder that sterile processing management challenges often keep OR managers and hospital executives up at night. Constant staff turnover and a lack of effective, standardized processes and techniques threaten all aspects of the OR operation at a time when managers are regularly being asked to do more with less. An effective SPM program takes effort, to be sure, but the good news is that these challenges are not insurmountable. In fact, focusing on basic fundamentals can make a big difference.

Start with a thorough program assessment to get a clear sense of your strengths and deficiencies. Quality metrics that include frequency of case cart errors, instrument set errors, documentation errors, immediate use stream sterilization, and case start delays will give you a reliable picture of your environment and the basis for a roadmap to your improvement plan.

You can find useful resources from the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM), the Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD), and the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN)—just three of many organizations dedicated to furthering education, certification, and improvement in SPM.

As a foundation of surgical activity, excellence in sterile processing management promotes excellence throughout the OR.  With some smart data analysis, clinical expertise, and a commitment to improvement, OR managers can drive change that will help everyone sleep a little better at night.

SpecialtyCare is a recognized leader in providing sterile processing management. Hospitals have turned to us to help them achieve superior results.  To learn more about our approach and how we can help you, visit our SPM page and then contact us with more questions at

Bill Bynum

About Bill Bynum

Bill Bynum, President of Surgical Services, has over 23 years of experience in healthcare services and more than 10 years in healthcare sales. He is responsible for delivery and support of SpecialtyCare’s non-perfusion autotransfusion, surgical assist, minimally invasive surgical support, and sterile processing consulting services. Most recently, Bill served as Vice President of Surgical Services Development, providing strategic support and guidance for clinical operations and customer relations. Previously, he directed sales and operations for the company’s minimally invasive surgical support and sterile processing management and consulting services nationwide. Prior to joining SpecialtyCare, Bill held several senior management and corporate positions with SSI, where he began his clinical career as an endoscopic technician and spent three years managing a Sterile Processing Department for a large Central Florida hospital and trauma center. Bill earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida.