In the name of the WFHSS we warmly welcome you to our first congress. 7 years after the European Forum was launched, it was time to broaden our horizons and to approach sterilization no longer from an exclusively European perspective.
The worldwide interest in the WFHSS - OGSV congress,
demonstrates that we have made the right decision.
Indeed, standing still inevitably means that progress
is no longer made. The world of sterilization too is affected by changes. In our area of expertise the goalposts are continually shifting. This has not only meant, generally speaking, a broadening of the international framework in which we are working but especially a changing of the way in which sterilization departments carry out their tasks. It is becoming apparent that not so much new technologies but rather new trends will impact the most on the way the CSSD will function in the near future. I can for example refer to the increased attention to cleaning and disinfecting, to outsourcing or the centralisation of departments and to the introduction of quality management and traceability systems.
These approaches make it possible to guarantee the all important reproducible quality.
Indeed it is expected of the CSSD that it provides a medical device which meets the same standards as an industrially prepared one. That is the reason why in the CSSD the principles, which are applied in industrial production are more and more introduced.
The big advantage is that in this way the traditional, individual interpretation of the procedures, a situation, which still frequently occurs in the CSSD, is replaced by an industrial homogenous approach of the production processes by all members of staff.
The previous paragraph dealt with the striving for homogeneity within a sterilization department,
in my opinion however there is a much more urgent problem we have to deal with: namely the differences in quality between the different sterilization departments in one country.
Even today we have to conclude that the differences between these departments are often too big, that the quality levels are very different and that uniformisation and harmonisation leave much to be desired.
It is quite unacceptable that a patient who has to undergo medical treatment runs a greater risk in one hospital than in another one, depending on the quality of the sterilization department. But this is indeed
"an inconvenient truth". And this in spite of the efforts made by the members of staff in the sterilization departments. These efforts have been too
non-committal, very often, as a result of a lack of local guidelines and follow-up by the authorities.
But Sterilization Departments should be able to guarantee at least a minimum quality level.
Realizing this is a difficult but an important task for the national and regional societies. They can draft recommendations and provide information.
But first and foremost they should sensitise the authorities for this problem. Indeed only the government can ensure that guidelines and norms are followed, can impose the necessary measures and provide the funds to renovate departments.
In this debate too the CSSD should put itself in the position of the protector of the interests of the patient by striving for the harmonisation of the departments and by actively promoting and supporting the adequate treatment of instruments.
The interests of the patients bring us to the interface between the CSSD and Infection Prevention. The link CSSD - Infection Prevention is more and more made these days. And rightly so.
By providing a medical device of a high quality the CSSD can undoubtedly make a substantial contribution to safeguarding the health and the safety of the patient.
But due to the technicity and advanced skills reprocessing requires, it is my opinion that the CSSD should take a separate place in the organigram of the hospital and certainly in infection prevention.
This will allow the department to independently make its own decisions. This of the utmost importance especially when the interests of the same patient have to be protected e.g. in the framework of the irresponsible re-use of single use medical devices.
The backing by infection prevention is in this case of course more than welcome.
Decontamination is a rational, industrial process
of which the outcome can be perfectly predicted if
the essential requirements of process control are met.
To create the conditions to make this possible is
the primordial task of the CSSD. Reprocessing then becomes measurable and hence an objective process.
The essence for the CSSD remains the delivery of a medical device of a high quality. This inevitably means that there is no more room for amateurs.
Our members of staff have to be highly motivated professionals. Only in this way will the CSSD get the recognition and respect it deserves. Indeed all too often the importance of the sterilization department is still underestimated. In any case this is the perception of a large number of members of staff in the CSSDs all over the world.
But respects starts with self-respect and recognition can only be gained after a CSSD has met its own quality standards.
As I have mentioned earlier the quality of the end product the CSSD puts at the disposal of the patient and of the medical staff is our ultimate touchstone. Quality is the conditio sine qua non for our recognition by third parties. If this condition is met the department will, supported by a cooperative, pro-active attitude, radiate a positive image and will get the recognition it deserves.
Adaptation to the changing circumstances is not only a challenge to the CSSD but it has become a priority.
If the CSSD wants to have a future in the hospital, if it does not want to suffer the fate of the dinosaurs, it will have to evolve and progress.
We trust that the world congress can contribute to this and can stimulate the development of the departments. The diversity of the programme is proof of these objectives.
To disseminate information has always been the prime task of a congress. However, it is also our ambition to make Baden into a meeting place of the sterilization world. This congress offers an unique opportunity to get to know each other better, to exchange views and to discuss crucial issues. We will undoubtedly experience that the problems we have always thought to be unique to our department are in actual fact universal bottlenecks. It creates the opportunity of looking for solutions in collaboration with others and of joining others on the road to - or is it a quest for? - an ever better sterilization practice.
We would also like to congratulate the OGSV on its tenth anniversary and to express our thanks for organizing this congress.
We are convinced that the dynamism of the OGSV will remain the driving force behind an excellent national sterilization practice and a benchmark for all of us.
We wish you a very successful congress.