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SPD Reaches Patients Hospital Wide

Appreciation for Reprocessing Professionals

For those of us who work in sterile processing, we understand the significant role we play in patient care and the expectation of delivering quality medical devices to clinical care providers. We know our role is important and critical, because “surgery can’t take place without sterile surgical instrumentation.” This is definitely a true statement, but there are so many other areas within the hospital that also rely on the services, expertise and support of the sterile processing department. Whether you are familiar with the sterile processing department (SPD) or not, let this be your opportunity to learn even more about our unique job. Take a look at some eye opening facts, that just might surprise you.


SPD Provides for more than the Operating Room

The SPD provides so much more than clean and sterile instruments to the operating room. In many cases the reprocessing department is centralizing their activities to provide services to  the entire hospital, or even multiple campuses, clinics and surgery centers throughout the organization. This requires a vast amount of knowledge, special skills and great understanding of the intricacies of the items being cleaned and sterilized or disinfected.

Practices in the SPD include a variety of skills, outside of the normal cleaning of surgical instrumentation. SPD techs are often responsible for cleaning a wide variety of items used throughout their facility such as patient equipment, positioning devices, back tables and mayo stands, patient compression devices, blood pressure cuffs, IV poles for the nursing floors, as well as commodes and other patient care items. Additionally,  there is an  endless amount of supplies that are used and required for case cart completion for patient procedures.


Some examples of the breadth of Sterile Processing responsibilities:


  • Every time a baby is born in the Labor and Delivery department, instruments are needed to delivery that baby. Every time a new born comes unexpectedly through a cesarean section, instruments that are stocked in those laboring rooms and OR’s are provided by SPD.
  • Each patient that comes into radiology for an ultrasound requires a piece, or pieces, of specific equipment to complete their treatment. Some facilities require high level  disinfection practices that are completed by the SPD along with cleaning of the probe being used.
  • Each patient that comes into the Emergency Room and is treated immediately for a wound, requiring stitches - the suturing kit that is used to apply sutures was provided by SPD.
  • A patient who travels to their local  foot and ankle clinic, as an example, for a small outpatient procedure relies on instrument kits and care kits provided by SPD.
  • Every time a surgery is performed, the anesthesia provider utilizes a variety of items to administer and care for the patient to prepare them for surgery. That provider also monitors them during the length of recovery and, along with their team requires their own inventory of specialty instruments including scopes and blades that are often processed by SPD.
  • A child having a tooth removed, after a dangerous football accident at school recess, relies on the dental instruments to be sterilize and clean when they come in for a visit.
  • A patient in the intensive care unit requires specialized care equipment and breathing tubes -  these are cleaned and provided by the SPD team.
  • Every patient who undergoes a bronchoscopy, colonoscopy or procedure to visualize the inside of the body or cavity to determine if a biopsy is needed, to help locate a tumor, or identify risks of cancer, requires a very delicate flexible scope. These are processed through cleaning and high level disinfection or sterilization, all completed by reprocessing professionals.
  • Women’s Care units all over the country perform routine care visits to provide a variety of treatments using, speculums, tenaculum’s and scopettes are all prepared by reprocessing activities.


These are just a few examples of areas within a medical provider that rely on the expertise and support of the sterile processing professionals to safely carry out patient care activities.