Sterilization Fundamentals

The Sterile Processing Department, also known as Central Supply or Sterile Supply, is the department inside the hospital where medical or surgical supplies and equipment, both sterile and non-sterile, are cleaned, prepared, processed, stored, and provided for patient care.

Until the 1940s, most medical or surgical supplies were processed and stored in the departments and patient care areas where they were to be utilized. Significant work and equipment were duplicated under this approach, and it was not easy to maintain consistently high standards for sterilizing methods and product quality across the health care institution.

As the number and diversity of surgical operations increased, as did the number and variety of medical instruments, equipment, and supplies, it became clear that centralized processing was required for efficiency, economy, and patient safety. It encouraged health care facilities to establish a different and distinct department, the Sterile Processing Department, with specialized expertise and direct accountability for providing clean and sterile medical or surgical supplies and equipment to patient care areas. In order to achieve the duties of decontamination, assembly and sterile processing, sterile storage, and distribution, sterile processing departments are often organized into four key divisions.

Reusable equipment, instruments, and supplies are cleaned and decontaminated in the decontamination section using human or mechanical cleaning procedures as well as chemical disinfection. In comparison, clean objects are received from the decontamination area and assembled in the assembly and packing section before being issued, stored, or processed like sterilization. Items are transported to the sterile storage room after assembly or sterilization until they are ready to be issued. The distribution section performs many important duties, including case cart preparation and delivery, exchange cart inventory, replenishment, and delivery, telephone-order and requisition-order fulfillment, and, on occasion, patient care equipment delivery.

The Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution (CBSPD) administers the exams for healthcare sterilization workers. The CSPDT certification is the entry-level certification for sterile processing workers; it certifies that tech is qualified to undertake the duties of a sterile processing technician. This qualification is the minimum for any state or facility that needs certified sterile processing technicians. In addition, the CSPDT is necessary to seek the CIS certification. The NCCA has approved this credential, which is recognized globally.

Martinson College was established to be a vital element of the industry’s ongoing struggle to improve the standards of Central Services and Sterile Processing Departments (CS/SPD) in healthcare institutions across the globe, particularly in the United States.

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