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CRCST 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 technical aspects of Central Service, with topics ranging from safety, regulations, policies and procedures to instrumentation, benchmarking goals and CS basics. These CRCST lesson plans offer continuing education for CRCST and CCSVP renewals.


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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: 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.
Introduction: CS is a vital department in any hospital or ambulatory surgery center. Although CS is more commonly known for the care and handling of surgical instrumentation for the OR, in many facilities, the CS department is also responsible for the transportation, pick-up and delivery of instrumentation to ancillary departments, including Labor & Delivery, the ED, outpatient clinical areas and more.


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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