Playing to Increase Communication and Learn Instruments in the Sterile Processing Department


At HSPA 2024, Lila Price, CRCST, CER, CHL, and Dannie O. Smith, III, BSc, CSPDT, CRCST, CHL, CIS, CER, emphasized accurate instrument labeling and demonstrated a game to improve communication between the operating room and sterile processing departments.

Communication is vital in the sterile processing department (SPD). However, the SPD and the departments they work with may not have the best communication channels. How can that breakdown be rectified? A presentation at the Healthcare Sterile Processing Association (HSPA) Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, from April 20 to April 23, 2024, gave a unique idea.

Lila Price, CRCST, CER, CHL, the interim manager for HealthTrust Workforce Solutions; and Dannie O. Smith III, BSc, CSPDT, CRCST, CHL, CIS, CER, founder of Surgicaltrey, LLC, and a central processing educator for Valley Health System, presented “What’s Your Depth Gauge?” at the HSPA Annual Conference.

An example of one of the drawings for the instrument game.   (Image credit: Dannie O. Smith III, BSc, CSPDT, CRCST, CHL, CIS, CER)

An example of one of the drawings for the instrument game.

(Image credit: Dannie O. Smith III, BSc, CSPDT, CRCST, CHL, CIS, CER)

Their presentation covered the importance of accurately identifying, labeling, and documenting sterile instruments to prevent reprocessing errors. They discussed how to establish clear communication channels from the operating room (OR) and the sterile processing department (SPD) to convey any special requirements of the instruments. Finally, they demonstrated an interactive educational game Price developed to help identify medical instruments in the SPD. Smith drew the instruments’ pictures for the game.

During their interview with Infection Control Today® (ICT®), Price, who also serves as the quality and education manager at Penn Medicine for the University of Pennsylvania Health System, explained the game. “So, it's a communication building [game]. I tell people to think about it in the form that there are two people involved in the game. We divided the room into teams; there will be a drawer and then a clue giver,” Price said. “They both have information about the actual instrument. But the drawer cannot say anything; they just have to freely draw the image of the instrumentation or the medical device, whichever is there. Then, the clue giver cannot say the name or any part of the name of the instrument. And try to get the rest of the team to guess what the issue is based on that.

Price continued, "So, there were a lot of interesting drawings [during the presentation]. Some of them were like that, and they liked how fast you guys like various skills. I was always ready to mix. But it's just a good way to build communication.”

Smith, who was also honored to serve as the 2024 secretary for the Mid-Atlantic Central Service Association, a regional chapter of HSPA, said, “So we want to make sure that we realize that we're all here to serve the patient, at the end of the day, and all our goals are challenging, and they are in their own right."

Smith continued, "However, we want to make sure that we can figure out how to communicate respectfully and realistically in a proper timeframe. And so that's why there was a time restraint on there. So, take 30 seconds to draw an image and get your team to guess. Because sometimes, that's all we have because this is the split-second time. So we tried to incorporate all those frustrations, and that goes on in real life and a real-time working environment. But in that space of a fun activity to help build team building.”

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