Wrong Instruments? Wrong Answer: Effects of Incorrect Instrumentation in the OR

Imagine your patient lying in the operating room, open and ready for surgery as the surgeon asks for an instrument out of the micro set. The vendor is sure he dropped it off, but sterile processing has no recollection or confirmed information whether the tray ever even showed up! Now you have the vendor blaming sterile processing, sterile processing blaming the vendor, an inefficient OR and a very upset surgeon. The effect that lost, missing or incorrect instrumentation and trays have on facilities can be devastating and can potentially harmful to the patient, as well as the facilities accreditations and reputation.

Baby boomers are flooding into hospitals, and unfortunately, hospitals do not have the money to buy or consign all of the trays needed for the many types of procedures that are performed in their facilities. Therefore, hospitals are bombarded daily with a large amount of loaner sets. Antiquated procedures are the only glue holding together this loaner process. When mistakes are made or miscommunications happen, this can result in delayed surgeries and even “flash sterilization.” Both of these outcomes can compromise patient safety.

Let’s not forget about the cost! In a study done by Can Anaesth, they found that the cost of postponing a surgery is close to $2,000. In addition, the cost of reprocessing a tray is $50-$60, multiply that by 2 if you had to postpone the case. What if the instrument is totally lost? Now we are talking thousands and thousands of dollars depending on the specific instrument. The majority of hospitals issue a reimbursement to the vendor, because there is rarely documentation proving exactly where that instrument was lost.

According to an article by Molly Gamble, one of the best ways to prevent inefficiencies in the operating room due to equipment problems is by holding meetings and forecasting the schedule for the next day and ensuring that the “pick lists” on the case carts are accurate. There are systems, such as UniteOR, that solve all of these problems. By implementing processes that allow you to increase efficiency and accountability during the procurement of implantable devices and the accompanying instrumentation, you can save your facility thousands of dollars and numerous headaches.

Ackridge, Jeannie. “Blocked and Loaded diabetes medicine.” February 2014 – Operating Room. Healthcare Purchasing, n.d. Web. 02 June 2015. <http://www.hpnonline.com/inside/2014-02/1402-OR-Scheduling.html>.

Gamble, Molly. “6 Cornerstones of Operating Room Efficiency: Best Practices for Each.” 6 Cornerstones of Operating Room Efficiency: Best Practices for Each. Becker’s Hospital Review, n.d. Web. 02 June 2015. <http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/or-efficiencies/6-cornerstones-of-operating-room-efficiency-best-practices-for-each.html>.

Tessler, Michael, Simcha Kleiman, and Michael Huberman. “”Zero Tolerence for Overtime”” “zero Tolerance for Overtime” Increases Surgical per Case Costs. Canadian Journal of Anaesthesia, 01 Oct. 1997. Web. 02 June 2015. <http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF03019223>.