How a Large Academic Medical Center Uncovered $250,000 Annual Cost Savings
A critical pillar of surgical services, the sterile processing department (SPD) requires absolute attention to detail to ensure patient safety and surgeon satisfaction while simultaneously following rigorous reprocessing practices for optimal efficiency. If attention to one domain outweighs the other, there is a significant imbalance within the surgical ecosystem. The cost to reprocess a single instrument can add up quickly if your OR uses 60,000 instruments a day. Similarly, purchasing too many instruments in a given period can be just as costly. This was the case for one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers on the east coast.
Academic medical center on the east coast
Level One regional trauma and burn center
30+ operating rooms
This large academic medical center experienced significant issues within its sterile processing program, causing deficiencies in the quality of service and high instrument costs.
Root causes for the cost and quality issues included:
An excessive number of overstocked and underutilized trays
Lack of staffing and incorrect staffing patterns/assignments
Lack of protocols and proactive interactions between the OR and SPD in planning and problem-solving
These recurring issues resulted in finger-pointing and continued bleeding of financial resources. In response, leadership sought outside guidance from Sullivan Healthcare Consultants (SHC) to reduce instrument loss throughout the instrument use and reprocessing phases of the surgical encounter.
Key Program Revisions Completed by SHC
Implemented OR/Sterile Processing Communication/Operational Task Force
Assessed management team experience, expertise, and span of control of the Sterile Processing Department
Developed staffing plan to optimally support the current volume and workload demands
Identified areas of non-compliance with national standards for instrument care, cleaning, and reprocessing
Developed and implemented postoperative Instrument Care Protocols
Developed and implemented Operating Room and Sterile Processing staff education program related to instrument care and handling
Developed ‘real time’ instrument loss/damage tracking system
Identified inconsistencies and redundancy in ordering, instrument repair tracking, and instrument replacement processes
Initiated instrument tray utilization, reconfiguration, and standardization project
Developed and implemented Sterile Processing Department policy and staff education plan to reduce autoclave ‘wet loads’
Purchased and implemented an instrument tracking system
Developed an organizational plan to ensure clinical and managerial expertise and educational support within the Sterile Processing program of Perioperative Services
Established opportunity for $250,000 cost savings per year for instrument replacement
Reduced $12,000 per year in instrument processing rework due to ‘wet loads’
Reduced staff and surgeon frustration
Developed a proactive and collaborative approach to resolving identified issues
SHC’s analysis uncovered that the cost of instrument repair and replacement was $500K annually, more than double compared to peer facilities.
Experience The Sullivan Difference
If your OR is experiencing instrument loss, inefficient workflow, or increased ‘wet loads,’ your healthcare organization could benefit from an SPD assessment from Sullivan’s team of experts. SHC maximizes the strategic goals of your organization through expert surgical services consulting. Put our deep understanding of clinical standards and best practices to work for your organization. Learn more about our SPD consulting services or contact us today to discuss how we can improve your organization’s performance and uncover meaningful cost savings.