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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: December 18, 2017 02:09 PM
From: Senator Kim L. Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Enhancing the Safety of Surgical Patients
I am introducing legislation to enhance the safety of surgical patients by requiring the certification of individuals responsible for ensuring that equipment and instruments used during surgical procedures are properly disassembled, cleaned, inspected, sterilized and reassembled prior to patient use.

Known as central service technicians, these vital healthcare workers are responsible for first-line processes to prevent surgical site infections. Improperly sterilized instruments used in surgical procedures can introduce bacteria into a patient that sets up the risk for infection. It is critical to the safety of these patients that every member of the surgical team has the proper education, skills and knowledge to function safely.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in its Action Plan to Prevent Healthcare-Associated Infections cited that surgical site infections result in an estimated 13,088 deaths per year and cost hospitals approximately $25,546 per infection. Earlier this year, a Pennsylvania Health Department inspector's interview determined that an employee involved with surgery at Crozier-Chester Medical Center "did not know that an endoscope could not be reused if it had only been pre-cleaned and did not understand that it required high level disinfection before reuse." The investigative report states that operating room nurses and technicians were re-competencied on the use and pre-cleaning process for endoscopes.

With the passage of this legislation, an individual in this position will be required to pass a nationally accredited exam and maintain 10 continuing education credits annually. The legislation provides for “grandfathering in” technicians that have been working as central service technicians immediately prior to January 1, 2018, but they will still have to maintain 10 continuing education credits annually. Those not grandfathered in will have 18 months from the date of hire to get certified.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important patient-safety initiative.

Introduced as SB1135