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DNV GL Healthcare Webinar Explores Sterile Processing Certification

Sterile Processing Image of scalpel being passed during surgery
Long Beach College Medical Center First in the Nation to Obtain Certificate
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Sterile processing is crucial to patient safety. Being certified in this process makes a hospital even more valuable to the community it serves. 

This was a primary takeaway of the webinar held on April 11th, “Are Your Surgical Patients Safe? Identifying Risks and Opportunities in Sterile Processing,” sponsored by DNV GL Healthcare. The webinar featured Stephen Cuthbertson, Executive Director of Risk Management for College Medical Center in Long Beach, Calif. 

Introduced last November, DNV GL’s Sterile Processing Program Certification is the first in the United States offered by a hospital accrediting organization. 

The need for sterile processing certification has been given greater urgency after difficulties sterilizing certain models of duodenoscopes became national news. A series of sterilization failures sickened and killed numerous patients in California and the Pacific Northwest between 2010 and 2015. Three more patients died last year due to improperly sterilized duodenoscopes, the Food and Drug Administration disclosed earlier this month. 

Cuthbertson discussed the hospital’s work with DNV GL. The 184-bed facility, part of the College Health Enterprises system, earned its certification in sterile processing in February 2019, making it the first acute care facility in the nation to be certified. College Medical Center staff carefully considered whether it should become certified for sterile processing. “It ensured our patients had (their) safety bumped up,” he said. 

The initial survey of College’s sterile processing department turned up seven non-conformities. They were corrected by the final survey two months later. The hospital had also convened a new sterile processing committee, which now provides important oversight for many facets of surgical services. Working with DNV GL was “extremely collaborative, extremely educational, and it did yield continual improvement on our part,” Cuthbertson said. 

According to a poll of the more than 100 hospital executives attending the webinar, nearly 60 percent believe there are potential opportunities to improve the function of their sterile processing departments. 

DNV GL Healthcare President, Patrick Horine, observed that the hospital system has created a culture where innovation is fostered and integrated into the corporate culture. “College Medical Center Long Beach has truly embraced this approach,” he said. 

You can view the webinar and download the presentation for “Are Your Surgical Patients Safe? Identifying Risks and Opportunities in Sterile Processing” here: https://www.dnvgl.us/assurance/webinars/HC/190411_Sterile_Processing_Program_Certification_Register.html 

As the nation's second-largest healthcare accreditation organization, Gary Davis, DNV GL Business Assurance North American Regional Manager, cites its "kinder and gentler" approach and its annual partnership strategy as some of the keys to successfully accrediting hospitals and boosting quality improvement at a rate of 20% growth year over year. The majority of hospitals choose accreditation in order to be certified by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to receive federal funds and reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid programs. 

Hundreds of hospitals across the United States have switched to DNV GL Healthcare over the past decade. The organization accredits more than 500 hospitals in 49 states.