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CIS Online Lesson Plans

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Once you've purchased a lesson plan, 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.

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 more focused aspects of Central Service dealing with instrumentation, with topics ranging from urology, instrument marking/tracking systems, and suture issues to TASS, robotic instrumentation and proper decontamination. These CIS lesson plans offer continuing education for CRCST and CIS renewals.


Introduction: A patient walks into the Emergency Department with dull pain around the belly button that radiates and becomes sharper as it moves to the lower right abdomen. The patient reports a loss of appetite and is experiencing some nausea and vomiting. The vital signs show a low-grade fever and the physical exam reveals abdominal swelling and pain upon touching the right lower abdomen.
Introduction: Central Service/Sterile Processing (CS/SP) technicians prepare hundreds and, perhaps, even thousands of medical devices for use each shift; however, they rarely get to see the patients who are treated with those devices. Despite their reprocessing and delivery of those devices, CS/SP technicians may not always recognize the critical role they play in infection prevention.
Introduction: Implementing the transition from high-level disinfection (HLD) to sterilization for semi-critical devices is a movement that is intended to improve patient care because sterilization kills all bacteria, including spores; provides a higher reduction in microbial contamination; and has a sterility assurance level (SAL).
Introduction: The success of every CS/SP department and, ultimately, the success of every procedure performed in surgery, depends on the quality of the instruments provided. Ensuring each surgical procedure has functional instruments available and instrument sets that are correct, complete and ready for use when needed is an essential, yet challenging responsibility.
Introduction: Instrument inspection and testing is one of the core responsibilities of the CS/SP technician. Producing patient-ready instrumentation is significant to any successful surgical procedure. It is essential for an instrument specialist to have the knowledge and skills to identify commonly-used instrumentation, recognize important inspection areas and understand the functionality of each instrument.
Introduction: The CS/SP department plays a vital role in the delivery of quality healthcare services to the surgical team; therefore, it is essential for every CS/SP technician to understand not only his or her specific role within the process, but also the importance of working together as a team to achieve high standards in patient care and promote patient safety. Certified Instrument Specialists can play a key leadership role in this process.
Introduction: Leadership is defined as “the ability of an individual or organization to lead or guide other individuals, teams or entire organizations.” Opportunities abound for those who wish to assume a leadership role; however, it should be noted that a specific position does not need to be attained in order to become a leader.
Introduction: In the healthcare setting, “General Instruments” refer to surgical instruments that are generally used in most surgical instrument sets/ trays; these instruments may also be found in complex trays. This lesson will provide an overview of instruments commonly categorized as general instrumentation.
Introduction: Total joint arthroplasty, or total joint replacement, is a surgical procedure to repair the functionality of a joint. The most commonly-replaced joints are the hip, knee and shoulder. In total joint arthroplasty, the joint may be resurfaced, an artificial joint may be implanted, or both. Damaged joints are replaced with artificial implants that mimic the action of the joint.
Introduction: There may be times when it seems the CS department is out of control. Perhaps the Operating Room (OR) keeps calling, asking for instrumentation that is not in the department. Perhaps loaned instrumentation arrives and no one knows which case the instruments are intended for or what time the instrumentation is needed.
Introduction: Robotic-assisted surgery represents the use of technology to enhance the skills of a surgeon and create a patient experience that involves minimal stress and optimal recovery time. Because the mechanics of a surgeon’s hands are translated through a robot’s processing unit, the movements become more precise than what the hand could produce on its own.
Introduction: As an increasing number of healthcare facilities centralize their reprocessing tasks, off-site transport of instrumentation is being used more than ever before. This practice is raising questions on how to keep instruments properly contained and free from any contaminants while transporting them to and from each designated area.
Introduction: Even though the accreditation process has been in place for many years, many CS professionals lack a solid understanding of why accreditation is important to the facility. Some accreditation-related questions may include: What is accreditation? Why do facilities go through accreditation surveys? Why does the CS department have a major role in the accreditation process?
Introduction: Communications is the cornerstone of any relationship; it can make the difference between a successful relationship or a failed one. Communication failures are one of the leading causes of inadvertent patient harm and employee dissatisfaction. Understanding how to effectively communicate with others is essential for delivering high quality, safe patient care.
Introduction: Sterilization is a key responsibility of the instrument technician, and each phase of instrument processing impacts the sterilization of medical devices. Infections from improper cleaning and sterilization of medical devices have caught the attention of medical device manufacturers and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Introduction: More than ever, people are dependent upon staying connected, and are relying on electronic devices/social media to do so. Some people check their phone hundreds of times in a day. In healthcare, where Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance is required, social media and cell phone use pose potential problems for workers and patients.
Introduction: The use of laparoscopic instruments for minimally invasive surgery (MIS) has increased significantly across the world in the 20th century. MIS procedures allow the surgeon to perform a procedure without using a large incision. The advantages for the patient include smaller scars, less pain, faster healing, decreased hospital stays and less time off work.
Introduction: Instruments used for thoracic surgery may be very delicate or quite heavy and sturdy. Thoracic instruments usually need to be processed as soon as they are received in the Central Service (CS) department because these sets are often needed in case carts for cardiovascular and thoracic emergencies.
Introduction: Continuing Education is invaluable for career growth, regardless of one’s path or aspirations. By closing the gap between technician and director roles through learning and developing new skills within the technician, educator, leadership and management areas, a CS technician may find new perspectives that may help clarify his or her most suitable career path.


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. Purdue University offers a subscription series for the CRCST and CIS Lesson Plans (available online or through correspondence paper/pencil grading). 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).

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