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CRCST Online Lesson Plans

This series of self-study lessons on Sterile Processing topics was developed by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM). The lessons concentrate on the technical aspects of Sterile Processing, with topics ranging from safety, regulations, policies and procedures to instrumentation, benchmarking goals and SP basics. These lesson plans offer continuing education for CRCST and CCSVP renewals.


IAHCSMM Members receive access to lesson plans at a discounted rate.

To familiarize yourself with our library, please review the CRCST lesson plan descriptions below. Once you’re ready to access the lesson plans, simply sign in to the store, add the lesson plans to your cart and proceed to checkout. Member discounts will reflect as you add lesson plans to your cart and complete the check-out process.

Upon successful check-out, you will have immediate access to view the content through your IAHCSMM Account. Following each reading, there will be a quiz to take in order to receive credit toward your renewals. Please Note: IAHCSMM does not manually grade any paper quiz submissions, and to achieve credit, all quizzes must be completed online.

178-Cleaning Monitoring Using Adenosine Triphosphate: Facts and Fiction
Introduction: It is well documented that cleaning is a critical element of any infection prevention program. Proper cleaning of environmental surfaces in patient rooms or treatment areas can play a direct role in reducing the transmission of pathogens, and thorough cleaning of medical and surgical devices is critical to the effective disinfection or sterilization of those devices.
177-Communicating for Service Excellence
Introduction: The goal and expectation of every Sterile Processing department (SPD) and technician is to provide surgical instruments, devices and equipment that are safe to use from one patient to the next. When SP professionals provide the highest quality of reprocessing services, they also provide confidence to direct patient care providers.
176-Accreditation Survey Preparedness for Sterile Processing Professionals
Introduction: The “surveyor on site” notification signals that “surveyors are here” -- and it understandably brings dread to some and nervous anticipation to others. Lack of preparation for an accreditation survey is unacceptable, especially if one’s healthcare facility has gone through accreditation surveys in the past.
175-Sterilization in Dental Settings: Tools to Achieve and Provide Optimal Standard of Care
Introduction: Sterilization within a dental clinic poses different challenges than those faced in a hospital setting. Challenges include smaller instruments, which can harbor residue; smaller sterilizer chambers; and the storage of sterile items in small cabinets and drawers.
174-Improving Communication in the Work Area
Introduction: It is impossible to complete a shift in Sterile Processing (SP) without communicating. In fact, the entire department's operations depend on communication. Each work area connects with other work areas to achieve the overall goals of the department.
173-Keys to a Successful Pack Control Strategy Using Chemical Indicators
Introduction: In the world of instrument processing, there are six steps involved in the process: transportation, cleaning/inspection, packaging, sterilization, storage/delivery, and quality assurance (QA). This lesson will focus on an aspect of QA - pack control - and why the presence of internal chemical indicators (CIs) is important.
172-The Science of Speed - Today's Rapid Readout BIs
Introduction: Biological indicators (BIs) are an important part of a quality control system for hospital sterilization processes. Information about the quality of the sterilization process supplied by BIs, when combined with the information from physical monitors and chemical indicators, provides the basis for the decision on whether to release the medical devices for use on patients.
171-Turning up the Heat on Heat Sealer Quality
Introduction: Heat sealers are a fast, efficient method of creating tamper-evident seals for sterile packages. Heat sealers have been a part of Sterile Processing departments (SPDs) for years and, unfortunately, are sometimes taken for granted. In some cases, heat sealers receive little more than a yearly safety check and are used until they malfunction or stop working altogether.
170-Medical Device Cleaning: Back to Basics
Introduction: Cleaning is the most important task any Sterile Processing (SP) technician will be assigned. The instrument cleaning process is essential to successful outcomes and patient safety. Failure to properly perform any step in the cleaning process will result in a device that may be unsafe to handle with ungloved hands and a failed decontamination/disinfection/sterilization process. Ultimately, the patient may be negatively affected with a healthcare-associated infection (HAI), which can be life threatening.
169-Risk Analysis: Integral Component of a Quality Management System
Introduction: Unexpected events and occurrences can be disruptive to a Sterile Processing department (SPD) and produce a domino effect throughout the healthcare facility. As part of a quality management system (QMS), such disruption may be prevented or minimized by proactively undertaking a risk analysis to strive to produce a system that performs as intended.
168-Tray Accuracy and Chemical Indicators
Introduction: Tray accuracy is a very important aspect of the assembly process in all Central Service/Sterile Processing (CS/SP) departments, and trays cannot be accurate without the presence of the chemical indicator (CI) in the tray; this is considered an important aspect of patient safety. When patients enter surgical suites for procedures, they expect that the trays processed for their cases will be complete and accurate.
167-Cleaning Monitoring for Flexible Endoscopes
Introduction: Flexible endoscopes are complex medical devices used in a variety of medical procedures for both diagnosis and treatment. As endoscope design and technology have advanced, flexible endoscopes have grown in complexity and in their use in surgical procedures, advancing the field of minimally-invasive surgeries (MIS). Flexible endoscopes allow access to internal organs and structures through an existing opening or orifice, eliminating the need for a large surgical incision...
166-Chemical Indicators from A to Z
Introduction: Chemical indicators (CIs) are used every day as part of quality control programs in healthcare facilities across the US and around the world. They come in many shapes and colors and are used in all types of disinfection and sterilization processes. Their common use and small size may make them seem simple and, perhaps, unimportant – seeming to be just part of the background of the reprocessing operations; however, CIs are quite complex.
165-Sterilization Process Monitoring: Are Your Practices Current?
Introduction: Accreditation bodies continue to pay close attention to the processing of medical devices. More importantly, the goal of a CS/SP professional is to contribute to the best possible patient outcomes by performing meticulous cleaning and effective sterilization of reusable instruments. One important element in achieving this goal is to routinely monitor the performance of the sterilizers in the department.
164-Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide Sterilization
Introduction: The inaugural use of vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VH2O2) sterilization in US healthcare facilities occurred in 1993; this sterilizer had one cycle, one injection of VH2O2 sterilant and a very limited number of compatible devices and packaging types, but this sterilizer launched a brand-new technology into the industry. 25 years later, the inaugural sterilizer is obsolete, and today there are multiple VH2O2...
163-Maintaining an Effective Workstation
Introduction: Maintaining effective workstations is crucial for ensuring an efficient process flow in the Central Service/Sterile Processing (CS/SP) department. Having all the necessary supplies available when needed and within easy reach is a key factor in effective medical device processing. This lesson will identify the basic steps necessary to maintain workstations in each area of the CS/SP department and ensure effective, efficient processes and work flow.
162-Validation and Verification
Introduction: The terms “validation” and “verification” are frequently used when processing medical devices; however, these terms are often used inappropriately and Central Service/Sterile Processing (CS/SP) technicians must understand they are not interchangeable. The purpose of this lesson is to clarify both terms, describe what each term entails and explain how the two activities impact a CS/SP department.
161-Tools for Identifying Hazards and Improving Workplace Safety in CS
Introduction: Many organizations are taking a closer look, at the link between the work environment and its impact on patient care and worker safety. A safe and healthy functioning CS/SP department will reduce errors and result in fewer patient and employee injuries. The recent AORN Journal article, Workplace Safety Equals Patient Safety, supported this concept.
160-Manual Cleaning
Introduction: Many organizations are taking a closer look, at the link between the work environment and its impact on patient care and worker safety. A safe and healthy functioning CS/SP department will reduce errors and result in fewer patient and employee injuries. The recent AORN Journal article, Workplace Safety Equals Patient Safety, supported this concept.
Introduction: For every CRCST, the basic educational foundation regarding microbiology should already have been laid. This self-study course will expand upon the basics and address some of the microbes that are of particular concern when performing medical device processing. The CS technician’s role in healthcare is to prevent infections, and the old adage “prevention is the best medicine” is still relevant today.

IAHCSMM offers only online grading for the lesson plans. Mailed submissions to IAHCSMM will not be graded and will not be granted a point value. Quizzes may be graded by a manager/supervisor as an in-service worth 1 CE per quiz passed with a 70% or higher (proper documentation of the in-service is required for re-certification, and IAHCSMM does not provide answer keys for any of the lesson plans). Purdue University offers a subscription series for the CRCST and CIS Lesson Plans (available online or through correspondence paper/pencil grading).