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CHL Online Lesson Plans

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This series of self-study lessons on Central Service topics was developed by the International Association of Healthcare Central Service Materiel Management (IAHCSMM). The lessons concentrate on the information and advancements of Central Service from a managerial and supervisory role, with topics ranging from leadership and work performance to coaching and training evaluations. These CHL lesson plans offer continuing education for CHL renewals.


Introduction: How many times have you made changes in your Sterile Processing department (SPD), only to return a week later and find nothing has happened? Were you able to determine why or did you just get frustrated and give up? It seems that just the word “change” can make staff roll their eyes, tense their shoulders and let out deep sighs. What if you were able to switch the negative connotation of the word “change” to a positive, moving phrase embraced by staff?
Introduction: Sterile Processing (SP) customers require sterile items for the procedure at the procedure's start. Any activities and items that do not directly provide sterile items to the customer is "waste." For example, cleaning instruments before sterilization is necessary to achieve sterilization.
Introduction: More than ever, Sterile Processing (SP) professionals are having to work faster, turn instruments around quicker, and complete sterilization sooner to support the Surgical Services schedule. Instrument cleaning is at the core of this process. Clean devices are critical to patient safety.
Introduction: Biofilm is everywhere - from bumps on the outside of seashells to slime in the bottom of a bird bath, it takes advantage of any surface in the presence of water. Biofilm may take many years to grow, or it can form within hours. Healthcare facilities are certainly no exception to biofilm development.
Introduction: For many staff members, their smart phones control much of their lives. It can manage their schedule, allow them to communicate with friends, family and co-workers, and deliver updates on events happening around the world. Many employers consider smart phones distractions that can contribute to poor employee performance and, in the realm of healthcare, they can also contribute to health and safety risks.
Introduction: What do Ebola, bubonic plague, bacterial meningitis and hepatitis C infection all have in common? They are diseases that may be spread to healthcare workers through contact with blood or body fluids. Although these serious diseases are caused by infectious agents carried in blood and body fluids, they are not the only infectious materials that can come into the decontamination area.
Introduction: When a patient undergoes an endoscopy procedure, the threat of infection transmission from the reusable endoscope to the patient should be minimal; however, over the last few years, documented outbreaks originating from contaminated endoscopes have focused the attention of regulatory bodies and healthcare leaders on the design and processing of these complex tools.
Introduction: Sterilization is a complex process that requires extensive monitoring. The sterilization process most commonly used in healthcare is steam. Steam sterilization processes use chemical indicators (CIs), biological indicators (BIs) and physical monitors to determine if the parameters for sterilization have been met, loads can be released, and items are ready for use on patients. Even the best processes sometimes fail, however.
Introduction: Effective leadership shares similarities to successful gardening. Gardeners painstakingly prepare soil and plant seedlings to ensure a bountiful harvest. The gardener could walk away until fall, allowing the plants to grow as they will; however, every good gardener knows they must continually check on their garden to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Introduction: Biological indicators (BIs) are the crosswalk signals of sterilization. They guard against the unseen and unexpected events that may result in serious harm to a patient. Often, they are seen as unnecessary and redundant, or as roadblocks that delay the completion of work; however, newer technologies are offering the opportunity to change these perceptions.
Introduction: Work smarter, not harder should be a mantra for all Central Service/Sterile Processing (CS/SP) departments as they strive for continuous operational readiness. In some cases, following that mantra is easier said than done; however, it is certainly achievable given today’s advancements with departmental connectivity.
Introduction: Delegation is one of the most important management skills. Effective delegation saves time, helps develop individuals, motivates staff and can help groom a successor. Poor delegation causes frustration, confuses and demotivates others and often leads to the failed completion of tasks. Delegation is a management skill that is worthy of greater understanding and improvement.
Introduction: Periodic product quality assurance (PQA) testing is an important, yet underused part of a healthcare CS/SP department’s quality management system. The process is sometimes referred to as product evaluation testing. PQA testing is the primary process used by CS/SP departments to verify that written instructions of use (IFU) that have been validated by device manufacturers.
Introduction: Current standards from the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI) identify device processing areas throughout the healthcare organization that have a responsibility for establishing a risk management process and performing risk assessments on an established schedule, based on the risk level identified.
Introduction: All CS/SP Managers will have difficult conversations over the course of their careers. Some conversations are labeled as “difficult” because the CS/SP manager may feel intimidated, misunderstood or angry. Difficult conversations often arise from conflict, and conflict can cause emotions to rise and our bodies to react physically (e.g., the presence of anxiety).
Introduction: CS/SP leaders should ask how they would characterize their department’s reputation among its stakeholders. “Stakeholder,” in this case, is synonymous with “customer.” A stakeholder represents all individuals affected by device processing and other services performed by the CS/SP department.
Introduction: Ethics is a rule of behavior based on ideas about what is morally good and bad; they are a set of moral principles that guide a person’s actions and are an essential and integral part of healthcare. Healthcare facilities have a code of ethics that outlines the mission and values of the organization, and establishes how employees are expected to approach problems in accordance with the facility’s professional standard.
Introduction: All CS/SP technicians should practice and maintain the highest professional integrity when it comes to device processing, and this is especially true of CS/SP department trainers. The trainer requires effective interpersonal skills and a respect for all individuals and the diverse workplace within which they train.
Introduction: Safe patient care is the most important issue to healthcare professionals. Technology is ever-changing in the healthcare field and is often an important part of decreasing the risk of infection transmission, improving efficiency and reducing the cost of care; however, despite the benefits of new technical advancements, healthcare facilities are often slow to adopt new technology if published national standards and guidelines do not yet address them.


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).

International Association of
Healthcare Central Service Materiel 
Management (IAHCSMM)

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