Device Reprocessing Policies Must Be a Living Document


If the policies are not consistently updated, they are “just a piece of paper shoved in a logbook that is not going to effectively improve reprocessing…of ultrasound probes,” said Lisa Waldowski, DNP, RN, CIC.

Defining policies and procedures for ultrasound probe, specifically, surface probes, reprocessing must be highly reliable and sustainable. How infection preventionists (IP) are engaged in devising the policies and procedures is vital for them to be standardized, used, referenced, and implemented.

Infection Control Today® (ICT®) spoke with Katharine J Hoffman, MPH, CIC, infection preventionist, JPS Health Network, Fort Worth, Texas; and Lisa Waldowski, DNP, RN, CIC, regional director of Infection Prevention & Control, Kaiser Permanente, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2022 Annual Conference, held June 13-15, 2022, in Indianapolis, Indiana. Hoffman and Waldowski discussed Waldowski’s presentation: “Strategies to Inform Device Reprocessing Policy Toward Patient Safety.”

“Typically, policies and procedures are developed with key stakeholders involved clinicians, infection prevention and control (IPC) for ultrasound probes,” Waldowski said. “It could also be the ultrasound department as to ownership of a policy and procedure with IPC being part of that review process.”

Waldowski continues, “I think it's important that infection prevention is understand that hierarchy of what needs to be included. And it also strongly supports when there are challenges and opportunities with frontline staff or other key stakeholders in understanding the why,” Waldowski said. “And what is in line regulation. What is in accreditation standards, what is in the manufacturer's instructions for use and evidence-based guidelines that all pulled together to support that policy and procedure to support a safe, highly reliable practice and process. So I think that knowledge and understanding and then being able to connect the dots to implement such a document is very important. And the recognition of that with an infection preventionist going into that work. They need to have that first and foremost because this is a challenging area that a lot of practitioners have been using these probes in various manners, and they didn't realize what they didn't know. So it takes a lot more than just IP saying, 'Do this.' So this background information and supporting documentation will help in a successful out.”

Hoffman concurs, “Standardization is key, having been stakeholders and permitting everybody at the table to sit down and talk through that process together [in a] roundtable and get everyone's thoughts and considerations on the table ahead of time, so you can move forward in the right direction together.”

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