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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: 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.
Introduction: With the advent of the event-related sterility process, the healthcare industry began removing expiration dates from its products. In recent years, however, due to changing requirements from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the industry has once again begun seeing expiration dates return on products. This lesson will discuss the expiration date process and how it affects the CS department.
Introduction: With an increasing focus on CS by surveying and governing organizations such as The Joint Commission (TJC), the Department of Health and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the spotlight is now on CS department staff members. Now more than ever, adhering to proper dress code that protects patients and staff members is a must.
Introduction: It has been a good morning in CS, and then the department gets the dreaded call stating that the Operating Room team opened a tray and discovered it is “wet.” Finding the cause of wet packs can be a daunting task because there can be many variables involved. Only after the cause is identified can the solution can be explored and implemented.
Introduction: The need to evaluate and standardize the tools used for instrument cleaning is very important to the success of CS technicians, yet it is sometimes overlooked. Recently, the proper use and selection of cleaning brushes has become an area of focus for surveyors. It is essential that cost does not take priority over the need for CS professionals to deliver clean, safe and sterile items for patient use in the OR and beyond.
Introduction: ULTRASONIC (SONIC) CLEANING ENHANCES THE INSTRUMENT Ultrasonic (sonic) enhances the cleaning process by reaching complex, hard-to-clean areas of medical devices. The cavitation process can be enhanced or hindered by many factors, including manual cleaning, solutions used, instrument complexity, and the adherence to proper loading and maintenance instructions.
Introduction: Change is constant in today’s society, and certainly in today’s healthcare arena. Change can prove challenging because it often means taking one out of their comfort zone. This lesson plan will explore why change is necessary, how individuals might react to change, and identify ways individuals can embrace changes that will inevitably happen in the workplace.
Introduction: Throughout the life cycle of a sterilized instrument or set, numerous obstacles can arise that may create an opportunity for sterile packages to become contaminated during handling, transport and storage. To better understand these obstacles and potential risks for contamination, it is important that Central Service (CS) professionals assess all aspects and impacts of handling and storage.
Introduction:Instrument cleaning a major focus in hospitals because of the increase in healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). The importance of proper learning of instrumentation or equipment used on patients is a key factor in HAI prevention. Knowledge of the latest industry recommendations, guidelines and standards, combined with practical skills, ensures that reusable medical devices are safe for handling and patient use.


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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