Spine Surgeons Waste Millions On Opened, Unused Implant Devices

Health Leaders Media                        Nov 16, 2011

Where does this happen at your hospital?  Several physicians performing spinal surgery at Deaconess Hospital in Boston got together and decided to save some money.  The chief noted a significant degree of intra-operative waste of implant devices and wondered what the dollar value was.  They determined it was significant, $17,680 on average per month, and the leading waster was the chief himself.

The physicians reviewed the process they were operating under, determined causes for waste, and instituted a few process changes they all agreed upon.  They quickly cut the number of procedures that wasted any implant device by half, down to single screws, and reduced the average monthly waste to $5,876.  This represents a nationwide $126 million potential savings.

Who in your hospital would create such an initiative?  Who even recognizes the need to take personal responsibility to create savings?  What system would be supportive of a grass roots effort among clinicians to really change something?  A business savvy individual is always looking for the better way to do things.  The better way can either be of high quality, safer, cheaper, or most likely all three.  Yet almost all physicians see no personal responsibility to take part unless it involves increasing their capabilities through clinical knowledge acquisition.  The business savvy physician will ultimately realize that their patient’s care depends as much on the delivery process as their clinical knowledge.

The whole point here is that physician education needs to encompass the business aspects of medicine. The issues of cost and waste in medicine are not clinical, they are business process issues and they need to be addressed!

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