ply removing that knife led to notable cost savings.” That $10 knife, Martin adds, is a

great example of how even small sav- ings can make a big difference. While high-cost items might offer more obvi- ous savings opportunities, surgery cen- ters should not overlook supplies that might cost only a few dollars. “There are many items ASCs use frequently enough that even a little savings on them will quickly add up,” she says. For example, maybe you spend $2.50 per urinary catheter and find a different, but equally effective, catheter that costs $1.50. Rather than view this as $1 in savings, look at how much your ASC will save over time by making the switch, she recommends. “There is a reason the federal govern- ment projects savings over long peri- ods, like 10 years. Numbers can grow quite large when you take many years of savings into account.” Materials management mistakes do

not always concern cost. Tina Stephens, RN, materials manager for Adult and Children’s Surgery Center of Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Florida, focuses heavily on avoiding mishaps that could harm physician satisfaction, patient sat- isfaction and safety. “Always pay close attention to

booking sheets,” she advises. “If a sur- geon requests a certain implant or sys- tem for a case, I know it must be in the facility on the day of the procedure.” Not having the correct implants or sys- tems can lead to case cancellations, a dissatisfied patient and angry sur- geons. A good materials manager will rotate stock and remove outdated sup- plies. “I would not want to be the one telling a physician that after reducing a fracture, the k-wire used was expired,” she says.

Stephens also emphasizes the importance of never guessing. “Do not assume all similar systems are the same. I will always clarify with the physician if I am not confident of what system he wants to use,” she says.

When she was a new materials man- ager, a surgeon asked for a certain nail, she relates. There were two companies with similar nails for the same indi- cation. She failed to clarify with the surgeon before ordering the system. “While the surgeon used it and the case went well, the physician told me after that it was the incorrect system. That is a mistake I will never make again,” she says.

Henderson says that while it is important to ensure physicians have the equipment they need for proce- dures, ASCs should be careful about giving physicians anything they ask for. “Do not try to stock everything a physician wants. There is a big, bold line between need and want.” His ASC has a physician who wanted to stock $8,000 worth of gynecology products for one type of case. However, the administration told him that it would look at adding stock as he added this case. “Needless to say, we do not have the product in inventory as the physi- cian has only performed two of these procedures in 1.5 years,” he says.

Quick Tips for Success To improve your ASC’s materials management, Stephens advises focus- ing on communication and collabora-

tion. “Frequently speak with surgeons and staff to ensure your facility always has what is needed to do your cases. Keeping staff informed about the state of your inventory helps avoid confu- sion and early morning phone calls from panicking surgical techs looking for trays or equipment. Also, encour- age staff to help rotate stock if they put away supplies, so expired items never end up on the sterile field.” Henderson says his ASC has imple- mented processes to monitor mate- rials management performance and catch potential problems early. “I am evaluated on monthly inventory turns, monthly cost of inventory, expired inventory and average inventory cost per case. I also must present cost sav- ings once per month and am required to present at least $10,000 in savings per year.”

Martin says ASCs would be wise

to better engage their materials man- agers. “Remind them of the vital role they play in your ASC’s day-to- day operations and success. Encour- age them to share their thoughts and observations on what the ASC can do better concerning supplies and pur- chasing. You may be surprised by what you learn.”


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