Good Samaritan nurses on how to improve the OR supply chain

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Deena Carney, BSN, RN, and Heather Salvatore, BSN, RN, two perioperative nurses at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla., detailed how nurses can work to improve the operating room supply chain in an article published in the American Nurse Journal

Ms. Carney, director of surgical services at Good Samaritan, and Ms. Salvatore, the robotics coordinator, noted in the article that supply chain inefficiencies in the OR can cause patient harm if a nurse has to leave a patient's room to track down supplies. 

They detailed six steps nurses can take to improve the OR supply chain in the article, published April 28 in partnership with Syft, a hospital supply chain management software company: 

  1. Update surgeons' preference cards regularly. Accurate cards help avoid opening unnecessary supplies, Ms. Salvatore said.

  2. Communicate. Front-line staff need to have regular, open communication with those who supply the OR and others involved in the supply chain process. It's also important to consider communications barriers, such as when clinical staff and supply chain staff use different terminology for the same supplies. Clinical staff and materials management staff need to collaborate to bridge language differences, Ms. Salvatore said.

  3. Document accurately. It's up to the nurses to make sure the supplies that were used are accurately documented in the EHR. It's also important to have a system to document supplies that are opened but not used, and therefore not billed to the patient but that still need to be replaced.

  4. Use technology. Technology can remove some human error that may occur in manual methods. Technology such as radio-frequency identification, bar code scanners and smart bins that detect when supply levels are low help to automate the supply chain process.

    "You need to have a true automated tracking and inventory system," Ms. Carney said. "Walmart, Target, and Costco all have that, and hospitals need that too."

  5. Take a team approach. Good Samaritan created a team to address supply chain issues, and nurses on that team are essential to providing a front-line perspective. Include materials management staff, operating room staff and surgical aides on the team.

  6. Speak up. Front-line nurses can make suggestions for supply chain improvements to leaders and serve on committees tackling supply chain issues.

    "Everybody who's working within surgical services needs to be aware of and needs to be part of supply chain discussions," Ms. Salvatore said. 

Find the full article in the American Nurse Journal here.

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