HUH Honored by 3M Health Care Foundation For Best Practices 

WASHINGTON -- The Howard University Hospital Sterile Processing Department, headed by nurse supervisor Rhonda Snipes, was honored by 3M Health Care Foundation Monday for its success at raising the standards for protecting patients from surgical site infections infections at Howard and further establishing an industry-wide “Best Practice.”

“3M Health Care congratulates Howard University Hospital and it’s commitment by awarding Ms. Rhonda Snipes, R.N., and her staff with a plaque to recognize their efforts in contributing to the highest level of sterility assurance in their community,” the organization said.

The hospital’s Sterile Processing Department sterilizes all instruments and supplies for used for every surgical procedure at the hospital.  Last quarter, for example, the unit sterilized over 23,000 instruments.  Sterilization is an extremely important task.

Of approximately 15 million in-patient surgeries performed each year in U.S. hospitals, about 300,000 patients develop surgical site infections at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. Therefore, Snipes said, it becomes all healthcare professionals’ responsibility to utilize the best practices and technology at their disposal in order to safeguard patients.

The department was lauded for exceeding the requirements of most regulatory agencies.

Snipes explained that most regulatory agencies require departments monitor their sterilization equipment every 24 hours to a make sure it is functioning correctly and that non sterile products are not getting through. 

In an effort to reduce surgical site infection even further, Snipes decided to have the department monitor sterilization equipment after every sterilization.   It’s called Every Load Monitoring (ELM).

 It is extra work for the unit.  Instead of checking the equipment once a day, the department now does it eight to 10 times a day after each load of surgical supplies is sterilized.  However, it ensures the highest possible level of sterilization assurance for instruments, implantable devices and other surgical supplies that come in contact with patients’ bodies, Snipes said.

The Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation explains that the surest and most realistic measurement of sterilization cycle lethality is by using a biological indicator (BI) within a load of surgical instruments to be sterilized.

3M Health Care, a world leader in manufacturing sterilization assurance products for more than 50 years, currently markets these biological indicators to Howard University Hospital.

“The BI is the only acceptable monitor to ensure that all of the parameters have been reached in sterilization and that the instruments are free of any bacteria or microorganisms,” Snipes said.  “We are glad we can receive them from 3M.”

Snipes said she was proud to get the award for a department that doesn’t normally get much attention.

“We play an important, vital role in patient care,” she said.  “It’s good to get that recognition.”

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