That being said, many vendors in supply chain management are assisting health care organizations in making reprocessing decisions. O’Connell’s hospital places items for reprocessing across all specialties in a single container, and the vendor sorts them. For otolaryngology, those items typically include shavers, scissor kits, cartilage knives and endoscopic and laparoscopic trocars and instruments.
Explore This IssueJune 2011
“It comes down to working with a vendor that can support your efforts and knowing what’s available,” O’Connell said. He suggested networking with other otolaryngologists to determine which devices they most commonly reprocess and piloting each device in house to gain physician trust.
Working with the hospital’s TPR, Cleveland Clinic also developed a scorecard that tracks reprocessing costs, the number of devices reprocessed by category and estimated savings compared to best practice. The scorecard allows O’Connell to track trends, including his hospital’s experience compared to other hospitals in the system, and offers the opportunity to expand reprocessing to other SUDs.
The scorecard also reports environmental savings, including the number of SUDs and the estimated amount of waste diverted from landfills through reprocessing. For the most recent 12-month period, Huron Hospital diverted more than 2,000 units, weighing an estimated 600 pounds, for a waste reduction savings of $309. The vendor’s best practice indicates that hospitals of equivalent size can divert nearly 6,000 pounds from landfills over a year’s time, saving nearly $3,000.
That opportunity will grow over time, as “every quarter, some item is being evaluated for the potential to be reprocessed,” O’Connell said. “Every surgeon needs to look at reprocessing of medical devices, which not only protects the environment but also can boost the bottom line for health care organizations.”
Seek Physician Buy-In
Before considering reprocessing SUDs, an otolaryngologist should ensure that the practice meets appropriate safety standards across the board, according to Gina Pugliese, RN, MS, vice president of the Safety Institute for Premier Healthcare Alliance in Charlotte, N.C.
“You don’t want to talk about cost-effectiveness of reprocessing if a practitioner in your office is not disinfecting the current reusable instruments properly,” Pugliese pointed out. Premier suggests reviewing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services infection control worksheet (available at http://www.premierinc.com/quality-safety/tools-services/safety/topics/safe_injection_practices/Downloads/Infection-control-worksheet.pdf).
The biggest push in health care is the effort to standardize procedures, equipment and purchasing practices, said Cynthia L. Dunn, RN, FACMPE, a principal in the MGMA Health Care Consulting Group, based in Cocoa Beach, Fla. In addition to looking at functionality, practices considering whether to reprocess SUDs should weigh tradeoffs in cleaning, packaging, storage and labor. In addition, check with payers to ensure that reprocessed equipment will be reimbursed.