What is the cost of discarding unused surgical supplies?

Disposable supplies are often left over at the end of neurosurgical procedures. A recent study has identified the costs associated with discarding these opened but unused surgical supplies.

The study, published online May 6, 2016, in the Journal of Neurosurgery, found the waste could cost almost $1,000 per procedure.

For the study, researchers looked at 58 neurosurgical procedures — 36 cranial and 22 spinal — performed by 14 different surgeons at University of California San Francisco Medical Center in August 2015.

Across the 58 procedures, the average cost of unused supplies was $653, or 13.1 percent of total surgical supply cost, researchers found.
The most unused and discarded supplies in the study included sponges, blue towels and gloves, reports California Healthline. The study found the most expensive item wasted was "surgifoam," a sponge that can cost close to $4,000 each, the article states.

The researchers estimated that wasted supplies could cost approximately $968 per procedure, $242,968 per month and $2.9 million per year in the academic hospital's neurosurgical department.

The authors recommended price transparency, providing surgeons and nurses with waste education, performing physician preference card reviews and removing unnecessary items from the operating room and clarifying which supplies should be opened at the beginning of a procedure as strategies to reduce waste.


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