Playing a Game for Perioperative Nurses About the Sterile Processing Department


Do operating room personnel understand the complexities of the sterile processing department? They rely on the sterile processing department for surgical instruments, but are they aware of its complexities and requirements?

Perioperative nurses and other personnel in the operating room must work with the sterile processing department (SPD) to get the instruments required for the surgeries. However, do those personnel know what happens in the SPD? Do they understand the intricacies and the requirements that go into a successful SPD?

Infection Control Today® (ICT®) talks with John Kimsey, Steris's vice president of processing optimization and customer success, about his presentation and game at the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) International Conference and Expo held from March 9 to 12, 2024, in Nashville, Tennessee.

The OR and SPD work together, but does the OR personnel know what the SPD does? In this exclusive interview, learn how this SPD simulation game came about, the key takeaways, and the 2 different forms of the game.

The conference runs from Saturday, March 9, to Tuesday, March 12, 2024. For all ICT’s coverage, go here.

“It’s a hands-on audience participation SPD Simulation game that is super

fun and engaging that teaches people a lot about sterile processing. I’ll be running the game twice on Monday and twice on Tuesday.”

Some of the questions that ICT asked Kimsey were to provide an overview of his presentation, the key points or findings that will be discussed, what inspired the presentation, and what he hopes attendees will take away from your presentation.

Lastly, what is he most looking forward to at the AORN conference this year?

Kimsey told ICT that his presentation is “more than just a presentation. AORN is trying to develop some skill studios that they call “Skills to Use Hands-on Learning” out in the Expo Hall.”

He said that Steris decided they would do a hands-on simulation of sterile processing in the Expo Hall. “This is a pretty big thing. It's 40 feet by 60 feet. It's a full-size replication of a sterile processing department. And we're going to have audience participation.”

Kimsey said that attendees participate in this game because it is fun. “it's learning about SPD, many aspects of SPD, from pretending to run an SPD and actually doing it. We have some push carts, [and] in the pushcarts [are] our instrument trays, a shoebox. And we use crayons for the instruments. We have an actual full-size SPD setup with tables that represent sinks, washers, assembly tables, sterilizers, card washers, and storage racks, and we have 200 shoe boxes or instrument trays. It's about 22 minutes long and is the actual simulation of an app to see if they can process all 200 trays in 22 minutes. And, of course, it's sped up, right? So, it's instant, taking 15 minutes to assemble a tray in real life. They'll have 30 seconds to assemble this. So it's like a 30 to 1 ratio time.”

It is educational for the participants and the audience because “there are a lot of things that [they learn] by playing the game; it's fun because you get to see people struggle with all these shoe boxes and crayons. After 22 minutes, we will talk about what we have learned.”

(Quotes have been edited for clarity. To hear the entire interview, watch above.)

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