Starting in January, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) changed the title of their publication, Perioperative Standards and Recommended Practices (RP) to Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. The reason for the designation change is to align with the Institute of Medicine’s definition of a trustworthy guideline in addition to the acceptance into the National Guideline Clearinghouse (NGC), a public source for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
The AORN Guidelines for Perioperative Practice is a comprehensive publication that reflects the scope of professional responsibility and provides important information for the delivery of safe perioperative patient care and a safe work environment. These guidelines are evidence-based, meaning the evidence was reviewed and then rated as either strong or moderate evidence or rated as benefits balanced with harm. In addition, they are acknowledged by NGC. The surgical team, which of course, includes Sterile Processing (SP), is more likely to following practice guidelines that have been supported with evidence such as published studies.
AORN currently has six guidelines related to reprocessing of reusable medical devices. They are:
• Anesthesia Equipment – Cleaning and Disinfection
• Disinfection – High Levels
• Flexible Endoscopes – Cleaning and Processing
• Instruments and Powered Equipment – Cleaning and Care of
• Packaging Systems – Selection and Use, and
AORN also offers customizable policy and procedure (P&P) templates that facilities can use to create polices based on evidence-based guidelines. Accreditation surveyors such as the Joint Commission or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid want to see P&P based on published standards and guidelines.
AORN also offers specific Competency Verification Tools and Job Descriptions. This resource includes practice-specific competencies for SP such as instruments, packaging, all methods of sterilization, high-level disinfection, and endoscopes. The SP role-specific competencies and job descriptions are geared toward both technician and RN managers. More information is available at http://www.aorn.org/CompetencyTools/.
The AORN guidelines align with AAMI’s ST79 Comprehensive guide to steam sterilization and sterility assurance in health care facilities; ST58 Chemical sterilization and high-level disinfection in health care facilities; and ST41 Ethylene oxide sterilization in health care facilities: Safety and effectiveness.
As a SP and OR consultant, I always recommend that each facility have a comprehensive resource library consisting of the most current AORN guidelines and AAMI standards. These practice resources should be available to all personnel involved in reprocessing reusable medical devices. For more information visit https://www.aornbookstore.org/ and https://my.aami.org/store/.