Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Unsung Heroes - November 2019 - Subscribe to Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Outpatient Surgery Magazine, providing current information on Surgical Services, Surgical Facility Administration, Outpatient Surgery News and Trends, OR Excellence and more.

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Page 30 of 146

N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 • O U T PA T I E N T S U R G E R Y. N E T • 3 1 "Why is it," she asked with a mix of wonder and exasperation, "that my daughter made more as a lifeguard in her first job out of college than my hospital pays our reprocessing techs?" Peter Nichol, MD, PhD, an associate professor of pediatric surgery at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, peered down from the dais, smiled and leaned toward his mic. "How much time do you have?" 'A $50 billion problem' Rewind several years. Dr. Nichol is on vacation in Southern California when he received a series of emails from an orthopedic surgeon who was complaining about repeatedly receiving instruments back from sterile processing with bone fragments still on their surfaces. "I was pissed off, frankly, and decided I needed to spend time in the depart- ment to figure out what was going on," says Dr. Nichol. When he returned to work, Dr. Nichol worked shoulder to shoulder with hardworking reprocessing techs and was shocked by the sheer complexity of the operation as instruments came and went amid a dizzying and disorganized swirl of activity. "Trying to understand what was going on made my head spin," says Dr. Nichol. "Sterile processing departments need to be run like high-tech 21 st century manufacturing plants. Right now, it's like pre-Henry Ford." He was also incredibly impressed with the dedication of techs who often toil in relative obscurity. "They have tremendous drive and per- severance to master their craft, and are very aware that the instru- ments they take care of are touching human beings," says Dr. Nichol. "They're critical to the delivery of safe and efficient surgical care. It's egregious what we pay these people." He's right. Earning near minimum wage is simply not enough for the responsiblity of making sure the instruments that invade patients'

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