NEWS

Region releases report on medical device reprocessing

Study finds high degree of compliance, identifies areas for improvement

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Report: Review of Decontamination Practices within the Winnipeg Health Region

Winnipeg Health Region
Published Wednesday May 11, 2011

The Winnipeg Health Region today released an external review of the reprocessing of medical devices that makes a series of short and long term recommendations to improve the system.

Gale Schultz, Regional Director of Medical Device Reprocessing, said the Region has accepted and will act on all the recommendations. "Patient safety is our number one priority, "Schultz said. "We've already started to act on a number of them."

The report found that "while a comprehensive practice audit and gap analysis of cleaning and decontamination practices for medical devices demonstrated a high degree of compliance with standards," it also "identified some activities that require improvement."

It goes on to say that as areas for improvement were identified, staff and management took immediate steps to rectify any issues.

The Region contracted Linda Kingsbury, an out-of-province expert on Infection, Prevention & Control and Medical Device Reprocessing, last January to conduct an external review after a former staff member raised concerns about medical device processing at one site. "At the time we decided it was important to review the processes being followed at each site to ensure national standards are being met at all sites," Ms. Schultz said. A copy of the report has been provided to the former staff member.

The Reviewer examined all Medical Device Reprocessing areas in the Region, observed the preparation of devices pre-procedure, the handling of them during surgery and the processes followed post-surgery. Staff members in the operating rooms - including surgeons and anaesthesiologists - were interviewed about their experiences.

Most of the report's recommendations call for the standardization of reprocessing protocols and procedures at all sites, others called for equipment to be updated and a few called for the redesign of spaces used to reprocess medical devices.

The report also raised the issue of further centralizing processing areas. Currently some sites have a central area, but a number also have a 'satellite area', usually adjacent to the operating rooms.

Other recommendations included:

  • Increasing ongoing education and training with regards to hand hygiene and ensuring the appropriate tools are available;
  • Increasing ongoing education about Personal Protective Equipment (masks, gowns and gloves) and the need to be vigilant about its use;
  • Ensuring updated manufacturer's instructions (including appropriate use, cleaning and maintenance) are available and readily accessible to staff;
  • Ensuring the appropriate cleaning of all medical devices especially those designated 'hard-to-clean'; and
  • Reviewing the use of 'flash' (immediate) sterilization and standardizing its use across the Region.

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