Sterile Processing Profession Spotlighted in TODAY Show Segment, Investigative Report

The sterile processing and central sterile supply profession found itself in the national spotlight Feb. 22 with the airing of an NBC TODAY show segment that addressed the dangers of contaminated surgical instruments and the need for adequate training and certification of CSSD technicians. 

The segment -- which was partially filmed at Bon Secours-Mary Immaculate Hospital in Newport News, Va., and featured an interview with IAHCSMM president-elect Sharon Greene-Golden, CRCST, FCS, who serves as SPD manager at the hospital -- stemmed from an investigative report by The Center for Public Integrity.

The Washington-based news organization first contacted IAHCSMM last September to learn more about the CSSD profession, the challenges they face, and their vital role in the delivery of safe, high-quality patient care. Greene-Golden, IAHCSMM educational director Natalie Lind and IAHCSMM government affairs director Josephine Colacci, JD, all contributed information that helped frame the reports development. While the news reports underscore the role that instruments can play in hospital-acquired infections and highlight the dangers patients face if hospitals fail to allocate sufficient attention and resources to those responsible for instrument processing, the reports also highlighted that CSSD technicians are among the hardest-working, yet least appreciated and understood contributors to infection prevention and the delivery of quality patient care.

CSSD professionals often lack the respect they deserve, and thats something that IAHCSMM is working hard to change, says Lind. She stressed that while many factors may contribute to infections and other negative surgical outcomes, many of which were not explored in todays media reports, theres no question that education and certification is critical for driving quality and professionalism in the department, and keeping technicians abreast of the latest standards and technological advancements. 

Misconceptions about the CSSD profession still exist and more work is needed to further educate the public -- and media professionals -- about what we do and why, Lind adds. Todays media coverage did serve a valuable purpose in opening up much-needed dialogue, with a vast audience, about the CSSDs critical role in the hospital. IAHCSMM will continue serving in this educational role, and we are confident that more positive developments will arise as a result.

The Center for Public Integrity is currently writing a follow-up article that directly addresses the CSSD certification issue and IAHCSMMs legislative initiatives. Colacci, who was interviewed for the article, said national media coverage provided by IAHCSMM and other outlets that educate the public on the CSSDs critical role could also have a favorable impact on certification legislation at the state level. Any forum that promotes education and meaningful discussion amongst the public and state-elected officials could go a long way toward driving further progress on the push for certification," Colacci says.

New Jersey is currently the sole state in the nation to require certification, but significant progress is being made in other states. This month, New York introduced certification legislation and bills are also pending in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Numerous other states are actively educating state-elected officials on the CSSDs role in patient safety and infection prevention, and the about the benefits of certification and ongoing education.

We are definitely making positive strides, Colacci says. The next state to pass legislation will likely be the tipping point for many others to follow. This is why education and awareness is so critical.

To view the TODAY show segment, visit: The Center for Public Integrity report can be accessed at