The secret weapon: 3 reasons to use SPD to recruit great surgeons

It is no secret that the United States is currently facing a shortage of physicians. The Washington Post reported that by 2025, the US is expecting to be about 90,000 physicians short of the required demand.

Simply put: there aren't enough to go around. There are a number of reasons for this shortage and I won't pretend to have a solution to fix the problem. However, I do have some ideas on how you can gain an advantage over other hospitals who are competing for this increasingly limited resource. I firmly believe that one of the most underutilized tools for recruiting new surgeons is the sterile processing department. Here are three reasons why:

1) Great surgeons care about patient safety. Numerous articles and studies have been written about the sources and causes of surgical site infections. One of the most critical areas, which also happens to be one of the most overlooked, is SPD. Most surgeons are completely in the dark when it comes to the practices in their hospital's SPDs. However, a well-functioning SPD is absolutely as brag-worthy as a cutting edge hand hygiene system or new minimally invasive surgical system. Most surgeons will realize the importance of SPD if administrators and recruiters take the time to point it out. Unlike Las Vegas, what happens is SPD does not stay in SPD. Therefore, a good SPD can ensure that what comes out of SPD makes patients safer, and any good surgeon will find that appealing.

2) Great surgeons want to start on time and finish on time. Inefficiencies in SPD will affect surgical start times. As the recent news from Detroit has demonstrated, poor SPD practices will lead to delayed and canceled surgeries. Surgeons who have dealt with this problem before have likely dreaded the idea of having to explain to the patient and family that their procedure was running late or even needed to be rescheduled because of an equipment issue. A great recruiting tool is to offer perspective surgeons the promise of every case starting on time. SPD is one of the key players needed to deliver on that promise.

3) Great surgeons need their tools to work. Cleanliness is only the most basic aspect of SPD. Technicians are also required to check every instrument for correct functionality. Scissors must be sharp, hemostat teeth must meet smoothly, and needle holders must offer perfect gripping action...and that's a few examples of basic instrumentation. Additionally, there are scopes, cameras, power tools, and robotic instruments that all must be checked to ensure that they operate exactly the way the surgeon needs. The goal of a good SPD is to find the problems before they happen in the OR, and that's something any good surgeon will find highly appealing.

Of course, there is another possibility. Perhaps, you would never allow a perspective surgeon to come within a mile of your SPD because you know that what goes on there is shameful. You should know, as the aforementioned Detroit debacle proves, that the truth will come out. Surgeons will eventually notice when their scissors are always dull, their cases are delayed or canceled because the sterile field was contaminated by dirty instruments, or their infection rate inexplicably goes up. You should consider investing in your SPD before one of your competitors beats you to the punch.

Michael Matthews, BA, CRCST, CIS, CHL is the manager for sterile processing at Baptist Health Medical Center in Conway Arkansas. Michael has also written an article that appeared in the October 2016 issue of Infection Control Today. He is an advocate for professionalism and innovation in the sterile processing field.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.​

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