Implement a QMS for Device Processing New systems benefit patients and staff BY RICHARD W. SCHULE

Joseph Juran, a leading expert in the quality indus- try and author of Juran’s Quality Handbook—The Complete Guide to Per-

formance Excellence, defines “qual- ity management” as all activities of the overall management function that deter- mine the quality policy, objectives and responsibilities and implement them by such means as quality planning, quality control and quality improvement within the quality system. Whether or not to implement a quality management sys- tem (QMS) in your device-processing department should be a strategic deci- sion made by your ASC’s management team or the leaders of your device-pro- cessing department. An ASC that implements a QMS for

device processing realizes a number of benefits, such as, reduction in waste, rework and redundancy, opportunity for cost reduction, increased productivity, improved performance, improved cus- tomer satisfaction and, from a depart- ment staff perspective, a more orderly method of doing business and increased employee pride in the department and the work they do. Finally, a QMS brings about a greater awareness and commit- ment to quality throughout the organi- zation, department or both.

ISO 9000 identifies eight qual- ity management principles (QMP) that can be used as a foundation to guide an organization’s performance improvement. Many healthcare orga- nizations practice a number of these QMPs, such as customer focus, lead- ership, engagement of people at all levels, process management, sys- tem approach to managing, continual

improvement, evidence-based deci- sion making and a mutually beneficial buyer relationship. When you have a culture and working environment that embrace and practice these QMPs, you are well on your way to meeting cus- tomer expectations and commitment to continued quality improvement. Quality management can bridge the silos within an organization and become the catalyst for communication among staff. Personally, I saw implementing a QMS within a sterile processing depart- ment help improve and reinforce com- munication, the importance of docu- mentation throughout the process, and the importance of education, training and competency of all stakeholders. Device-processing is just one step in the delivery of safe, high-quality patient care, but with quality management, all parts are brought together. A QMS pro- motes understanding and communica- tion between staff.

Before implementing a QMS at

your ASC, have a conversation with the leadership to explain the benefits of a


QMS as many managers think they are already practicing quality management. In reality, most are practicing qual- ity assurance with the use of chemi- cal indicators, biological testing of the sterilizer, cleaning verification, etc. In addition, some healthcare organizations have implemented practices using some of the quality tools that are available, such as 5S, Lean Six Sigma, the Plan- Do-Check-Act tool and Kaizen events, to name a few. Though they are excel- lent tools, these only scratch the surface of implementing a documentation and communication process.

Once you get the green light to

move forward from your leadership, take the ANSI/AAMI ST90 standard and perform a gap analysis against your

current processes. Create a

checklist from the standard to support your analysis. From the gap analy- sis, you will gain a better apprecia- tion of where you and your team need to implement the remaining require- ments to complete your device pro- cessing department’s QMS.

The advice and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not represent official Ambulatory Surgery Center Association policy or opinion.

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