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Improper Sterilization of Reusable Surgical Instruments or Equipment in a Queensland Public Hospital

Slide 1

Reusable surgical instruments can act as a possible route for pathogenic agents’ transmission between patients in acute care facilities. Thus, improper sterilization of surgical instruments within Queensland public hospitals continues to be a major source of preventable patient harm, necessitating immediate action. This issue aligns with standard 3 “preventing and managing Health-associated Infections” of the NSQHS guidelines. Proper sterilization is fundamental in anticipating healthcare-associated infections, which can be life-threatening. Failure to comply to sterilization guidelines can result in a breach of this standard.

In a retrospective study undertaken to study on factors contributing to the improper sterilization of reusable surgical instruments (SI), it was found that inadequate cleaning standards were the primary factors associated with adverse events.

Slide 2

The improper sterilization of reusable medical instruments in a hospital can have both immediate and lasting effects. Patients who undergo medical procedures encounters an increased risk of contracting infections at the surgical site due to the contaminated instruments. This can result in them having to stay in the hospital longer, incurring higher healthcare expenses, and potentially experiencing long-term health issues. Inadequate sterilization can also predispose to these instruments harboring dangerous bloodborne pathogens, which pose a severe risk of being transmitted to patients. This can result in life-threatening infections that require additional medical interventions and treatments. This issue is linked to the principle of non-maleficence, which obligates health providers to do no harm.

Slide 3

The objective of the project is to introduce a comprehensive staff training initiative with a specific focus on sterilization procedures and protocols. The primary goal is to provide healthcare personnel in Queensland's public hospital with the essential expertise and competencies required to perform the correct sterilization of reusable SIs.

Slide 4

To tackle the concern of improper sterilization of reusable SIs, conducting a comprehensive training program for staff is a crucial solution. This initiative involves creating and executing a well-structured curriculum that covers both practical training and theoretical knowledge related to sterilization procedures, quality control measures and equipment operation. This reduces the likelihood of HAI. The training program of personnel will cater various health personnel, involving sterilization surgeons, technicians, and nurses. It encompasses practical training, periodic assessments and lectures to strengthen learning. Besides, participants will have access to a resource repository containing procedural guidelines and reference materials to underpin their training.

Slide 5

To ensure the successful execution of the staff training program, a well-structured and systematic plan will be meticulously put into action. It will kick off with a comprehensive need’s assessment, aiming to identify the specific knowledge and skill gaps within the healthcare workforce. This phase will involve utilizing interviews, consultations, and surveys with concerned stakeholders to tailor the training to meet the distinct requirements of the Queensland public hospital.

Following this initial step, a dedicated phase for curriculum development will commence, entailing the creation of comprehensive training materials like manuals, presentations, and practical exercises. These resources are intended to actively involve participants and improve their comprehension of sterilization procedures. In subsequent, a pilot training program will be organised with a staff member. This will provide a real-world testing ground for refining the program's content and delivery methods based on invaluable feedback.

Crucial to the success of this implementation strategy is the allocation of resources and delineation of responsibilities. Sufficient resource will be earmarked for development of program, involving the curriculum materials design, facilitator training and resource development. A designated training coordinator will oversee the program's implementation, managing logistics, session scheduling, and tracking progress of participant. The responsibility for providing the content of training effectively will be entrusted to experienced subject matter experts or trainers, ascertaining the program's accuracy and expertise.

At the core of the project's continuous evolution lies the imperative task of gathering and exhibiting data. A dependable system for data collection will be put in place to oversee participant attendance, their understanding of the content, and their overall performance. A methodical review of the feedback provided by participants will be employed to pinpoint areas for enhancing the training program. Consistent assessments of the program's efficiency will fortify its influence on ensuring patient safety and upholding the quality of care. These assessments will furnish tangible proof of any noticeable decrease in instances of inadequate sterilization and its associated consequences.

Slide 6

Utilizing quality improvement methodologies and tools plays a pivotal role in guiding the enhancement process. The cause-effect diagram known as the fishbone or Ishikawa diagram, serves to identify the key variables contributing to instances of improper sterilization.

Slide 7

Additionally, the driver diagram will be employed to create a representation of the primary factors of the initiative and their interconnectedness.

Slide 8

One specific metric for evaluation will be the reduction in incidents of improper sterilization, which can be measured through incident reports and audits. This metric provides a measurable indication of how the program impacts patient safety. Additionally, an important performance indicator will be the enhancement in adherence rates with established sterilization procedures, evaluated by post-and pre-training assessments. Another critical outcome indicator will be the decrease in HAIs. This can be monitored by closely tracking post-operative patients and contrasting rates of infection after and before the implementation of the training program. This metric underlines the program's contribution to improved patient outcomes and aligns with the overarching goal of preventing nosocomial infections.

Slide 9

In conclusion, the implementation of a comprehensive staff training program to address the issue of improper sterilization within the Queensland public hospital is a vital step towards enhancing patient safety and the quality of care. This project, driven by a systematic and well-structured plan, focuses on equipping health personnel with the skills and knowledge necessary to ascertain the appropriate sterilization of instruments.

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