Integrating Process Monitoring and Situation Awareness in Sterile Processing


Explore the fusion of process monitoring and situation awareness in sterile processing, fostering informed decision-making for safe patient care from a presentation at HSPA24.

In health care, 2 pivotal roles often operate in isolation: sterile processing professionals and infection preventionists. Yet, their synergy is essential for ensuring patient safety. The upcoming poster presentation, “Process Indicator Model,” at the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA) Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, from April 20 to April 23, 2024, delves into this critical intersection. Driven by a passion for enhancing quality care, Lisa McKown, DrPHc, MBA, CRCST, CIS, CHL, MBTI, ISO QMS Auditor, manager of research and development for Beyond Clean, searched for a way to integrate process monitoring and situation awareness within sterile processing.

Drawing inspiration from existing models and frameworks, the presentation aims to explain how these concepts can empower health care professionals to navigate complex scenarios with confidence and efficacy. By examining crucial aspects and actionable steps, participants will learn how to enhance decision-making procedures and promote a safe environment for patients and staff.

McKown spoke with Infection Control Today (ICT) about her pesentation poster and the research behind it.

“I have been writing another microcredential, and it's on process monitoring,” McKown told ICT. “As I was diving into the development of the content, I decided to spec out this framework for people to be able to help them visualize the informal process. So, when we think about process monitoring, many times we think about formal monitoring, such as when we document the results of a test, write something on a log book, or enter something into a tracking system. But there's another aspect of process monitoring that we do that is integral to our work. And I would like to say that it's closer to 85 or 90% of the process monitoring that we do…and it is the observations that we make. And it's the cues that we get and have to respond to.”

Then McKown explained that as health care workers listen to alarms and analyze the sound of equipment to detect any changes. Similarly, when inspecting something, they look for visual cues to identify any defects. All these different cues help them in their inspection process. Then she took those cues and studied the Mica R. Endsley, PhD, Model of Situation Awareness. “And she has built out quite a great framework, McKown said. “And so, what I did is I analyzed that [framework], and then I applied it to sterile processing. And so that is what inspired the development of this poster.

Find other coverage from HSPA 2024 and previous years here.

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