New technology is instrumental in enhancing Central Sterile Supply processes


Angela Parker (left), and Lavinia Jackson, Central Sterile Supply processing technicians, inspect each surgical instrument before logging it into the computer.

In her more than 50 years at Yale New Haven Hospital, Lavinia Jackson has seen a lot of changes.

One of the latest is helping Jackson and her Central Sterile Supply colleagues more efficiently process and track instruments to ensure surgeons have exactly what they need, when they need it, in the operating rooms.

A Central Sterile Supply technician, Jackson inspects instruments to assess their condition and ensure they've been properly cleaned before sterilization. In the past, she would log each item she'd inspected, by hand, on paper. Now, Jackson and other technicians enter each item into SPM, an electronic system that tracks surgical instruments and certain other items through the entire Central Sterile Supply process, from surgeon orders for instruments to assembly of the surgical trays that are sent to the ORs for each day's procedures. Both YNHH campuses and Bridgeport Hospital implemented SPM last fall.

This summer, YNHH took the next step, implementing an interface that connects SPM with Epic. When surgery staff schedule cases in Epic, the information flows to SPM, which generates a list of items Central Sterile Supply staff need to pull from inventory and place on case carts for each surgery. Staff used to generate these "needs lists" by manually preparing priority lists of the trays needed for the following day's cases, said Walter Hall, senior manager, York Street Campus Central Sterile Supply.

Now, priority lists are automatically generated in SPM from Epic, and sent to each assembly workstation for priority tray processing.

"We process about two million instruments every quarter at the York Street Campus," Hall said. "SPM and the interface have made our processes more efficient, so we can ensure that sterile kits are ready when surgeons need them."

A team from Central Sterile Supply, Perioperative Services, Information Technology Services and SPM fine-tuned and implemented the new processes, which will next launch at Bridgeport Hospital and YNHH's Temple Surgical Center. Eventually all health system delivery networks will use SPM with the Epic interface.