Better planning in the O.R. could save millions of dollars in the U.S.

Up to 30% of the money spent on health care in the United States is wasted according to an interesting new study produced by researchers at Michigan State University and Rutgers University. And there is certainly no talk of small change since billions of dollars are spent every year in the United States on health care costs.

The study was published in the Journal of Operations Management. According to the authors of the study, one of the main flaws in the system is in the waste of time that occurs during surgery.
They calculated that 5 to 10 minutes of time are added for each surgery due to problems in planning the supplies needed for the same surgery.

According to the scholars, $1,800 per year per surgery (a total of $28 million per year) could be saved by simply planning and checking more frequently all the supplies needed before surgery.
According to Anand Nair, the lead author of the study who, along with Claudia Rosales, spent several weeks observing surgeons and colleagues in hospital operating rooms, “In most hospitals, each surgeon is authorized to make his or her own decisions in terms of equipment and supplies. Surgeons feel comfortable using certain consumables because of their past experience; this increases the variance between items and the number of items that hospitals have to carry in the inventory”.

Another difficulty is that surgical teams often change team members, which also makes it difficult to communicate which instruments to use.
“Hospitals should explore ways to encourage surgeons to plan more often,” says Nair.