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Sterilization Errors in North Carolina Hospital Highlight the Importance of Lean SPD

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A recent sterilization error at a North Carolina medical facility resulted in 18 surgical patients' potential exposure to Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), an incurable brain disease. After an operation on a patient with symptoms later confirmed as CJD, the surgical instruments should have undergone enhanced sterilization procedures. However, the instruments were treated with standard sterilization procedures, leaving open a small risk of exposure to contaminated tissue for subsequent patients whose surgeries were conducted with the same instruments. While the risk remains low, the news has understandably caused anxiety for patients who were effected and their families.

Stories like these highlight the importance of Lean Sterile Processing Departments (SPD) in hospitals. SPD is a highly technical department with a very important behind-the-scenes task in the hospital. It is an excellent candidate for Lean tools including mistake-proofing, standard work, and 5S, as well as other Lean processes. Operational Performance Solutions, Inc. has worked with several SPDs in the mid-Atlantic region and has achieved great success in improving quality and reducing errors.

For more information about Lean in Sterile Processing Departments, click the link below to read OPS' white paper," Improving Quality and Reducing Cost in the Sterile Processing Department with Lean":


OPS - SPD White Paper

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