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Joint Commission Issues Safety Advisory on Managing Packaged Sterile Supplies, Devices
A new quick safety advisory from The Joint Commission in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, “Managing packaged sterile supplies and devices,” provides guidance to keep patients safe from infection and other potential harm from expired or compromised supplies and devices, according to a release.
“Over the past few years, we have found that many healthcare professionals do not have the proper training to recognize if packaged sterile supplies are appropriate for use,” said Diane Cullen, RN, associate director of Standards Interpretation Group at The Joint Commission, in the release. “This is concerning because the packaging includes many symbols which represent critical information about how the item should be used, stored and reprocessed. We hope the new quick safety advisory will bring this very relevant patient safety concern to the front of mind.”
The advisory urges healthcare professionals to pay close attention to device labels. Manufacturers of certain medical devices and products must include labeling on or with their devices, according to the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The Joint Commission requires that organizations follow the manufacturer’s written instructions for use (IFU) to ensure the end user understands how to use, clean, disinfect, reprocess and store medical devices, according to the release.
Additionally, the advisory encourages healthcare professionals to follow a hierarchical approach to infection prevention for packaged sterile supplies and devices. This approach includes following rules and regulations first, followed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) requirements, manufacturer’s IFU, and evidence-based guidelines and national standards.
Safety actions outlined in the advisory include educating staff to
- recognize the labeling used for supplies and devices, including the standalone symbols and their meanings;
- follow the hierarchical approach to infection prevention for packaged sterile supplies and devices;
- recognize when a commercially prepared sterile medical device would be inappropriate to use; and
- know where to find information specific to an IFU should a question or concern be identified.
Healthcare organizations might also want to provide posters and other graphic devices as quick references to the meanings of any standalone symbols, according to the release.
The full quick safety advisory, including additional considerations and resources, is available on The Joint Commission website. It may be reproduced if credited to The Joint Commission.