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University of Rochester and Medline partner to reduce waste in ORs

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To keep an operating room (OR) running smoothly, doctors, nurses, staff and the facility must all work in unison. The hundreds of products used for each procedure must be immediately available with a high degree of reliability and accuracy while remaining economical. With 25 percent of the surgical procedure cost coming from routine supplies, waste prevention and reduction is often a focus for hospitals, as doing so can lead to beneficial improvements in cost, efficiency, and sustainability.

According to Practice Greenhealth, one of the nation’s leading organizations driving environmental stewardship in hospitals, “the operating room (OR) is one of the largest users of supplies within the hospital as well as one of the largest producers of waste. Case studies have estimated that between 20-30 percent of the total waste generated by the hospital comes from the OR. ”

In an effort to improve the clinical supply chain journey, Carl Tietjen, University of Rochester’s Associate Vice President for Purchasing and Supply Chain Management, reached out to Medline Industries, Inc., a medical and surgical supplies manufacturer and distributor.  Medline and its team of OR clinicians and logistics experts ran a four-step perioperative supply management assessment and analysis process, working closely with each of the University’s medical centers, Strong Memorial Hospital, Highland Hospital, Sawgrass Surgery Center, and Thompson Health.  The program uses a customized combination of unique tools to assess, design, present and implement perioperative supply management process improvements.  For the University of Rochester, focus was on supply flow and productivity at each OR.

The work led to improvements in turn-over times, a reduction in the amount of items that have to be picked for each procedure, reduction in the amount of times products are touched throughout the Perioperative supply process and removal of hundreds of thousands of commodity items from the supply process.  Early predictions include a reduction in more than 422,000 plastic wrappers and 5,600 corrugate boxes each year. Assembled at Medline’s specialized surgical tray manufacturing facilities, the tailored surgical packs are wrapped and sterilized as one unit, instead of multiple products being wrapped and sterilized individually.  This reduces waste significantly, as each pack requires less packaging and fewer corrugate boxes to deliver them in.

According to John Ewonce, Medline’s Regional Vice President for Perioperative Supply Management Services, “Medline offers a highly customized approach to improving OR efficiencies.  Surgical supply chain projects can focus on a single aspect of the supply chain, such as procedure card review, or they can be part of a larger systemic review that will overhaul processes and improve everything from patient outcomes to departmental spending. The work we have done with The University of Rochester system this year will save approximately three-hundred thousand dollars. As we move toward product standardization in the second year of the program, an additional several hundred thousand dollar savings can be achieved.”

In partnership with the company, the University will continue to make efforts to reduce hospital waste.

Written by Julie Elliot, Class of 2015


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