Professionalism and Operating Room Etiquette
Professionalism in the work place is so very important, and all to often taken for granted. Although professionalism is a must in all professions, there are some specifics when it comes to sterile processing. In order for the department to run smoothly and operate efficiently, personnel must possess the ability to conduct themselves in a professional manner.
What it Means to be Professional
Sterile processing professionals must possess and demonstrate certain attributes both in the operating room and outside the operating room. These professional demands are directed at ensuring that you are fit for performing your specific duties. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a professional as ” (1) : characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession (2) : exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace“. Your career and your ability to advance is a direct result of your work ethic and if you portray yourself as a professional.
What is Expected
Management reserves certain expectations of a sterile processing professional. Expectations are as follows:
- Must be neat and tidy at all times:
Sterile processing technicians must always be neat. The nature of the job demands that you are neat at all times. The appearance of a sterile processing technician is important in order to reinforce confidence in the services rendered by the facility wherein such a sterile processing technician works. The department and work area must remain in a neat and orderly fashion in order to prevent possible errors during assembly.
- Must be organized, detail oriented and analytical:
A Sterile processing technician must be organized, detail oriented and analytical. Organization skill is important when it comes to assembling and dissembling surgical instrumentation. A minor error could directly impact a surgical procedure resulting in the harm of a patient. A sterile processing professional is expected to be detail oriented and analytical. This will help in the quick discovery of defects in any surgical instruments or equipment. There is no doubt that the job of a sterile processing technician is of great importance. The cleaning, inspection, assembly and sterilization of surgical instrumentation are crucial and must be executed flawlessly. Bottom line, when a sterile processing technician is efficient, it enables other medical personnel to be efficient.
Due to the nature of the work of sterile processing technicians, there is a dire need for certification. There are currently two agencies that can certify a sterile processing technician. They include IAHCSMM (International Association of Healthcare Central Service Material Management) and CBSPD (Certification Board for Sterile Processing and Distribution).
Operating Room Etiquette
Operating room etiquette is observed by all types of medical professionals ranging from Doctors, Nurses, Sterile Processing Technicians among others. They include:
- Knowing the procedure ahead of time:
Any medical personnel going into an operating room should know the procedure ahead of time. This can be done either by reading the surgery schedule.
Before entering a room you must don the proper personal protective equipment to prevent contamination or exposure. A medical personnel should never enter the operating room without a surgical mask. Other PPE may be required depending on the precautions posted.
- Minimal Verbal Communication:
There should be minimal verbal communication in the operating room. All communication when necessary should be limited to the procedure at hand and in the overall interest of the patient.
- Minimal Movement:
A medical personnel in an operating room should minimize movements, this is to ensure that you don’t stand in others paths or touch equipments without purpose.
- Do Not Touch Anything:
A operating room is a sterile environment. All of the surgical instrumentation and drapes are considered sterile and should never be touch by anyone other than the surgeon or surgical technologist. When bringing instrumentation to a room choose a clear path and set the tray or item down on a clean non-sterile surface and allow the nurse to retrieve the instruments from there. Last but not least, never touch a surgical technologists back table or place anything on it. Always keep a safe distance from you and the sterile field in order to prevent possible contamination.
Things to Consider
- Never discuss patient information with anyone other than ‘need to know’ personnel.
- Refrain from gossiping or talking about other people.
- Do not ‘vent’ your frustrations at work.
- Keep your work and personal lives separate.
- Never discuss anything non-work related that can be described as offensive.
- It may be in your best interest to keep your social media accounts for friends and family.