As a hospital supply chain manager, you have a lot on your plate. You are responsible for thousands of products and pieces of medical equipment and their movements throughout the hospital, you’re bogged down by admin tasks that take up hours of your day, and you’re tasked with dealing with the problem of expired inventory.
It’s a bigger problem than you may think. Though many hospitals already have a system in place for periodically checking inventory, 24% of hospital workers have seen or heard of an expired product being used on a patient according to Becker Hospital Review.
That’s the kind of misstep that can result in poor patient care or patient injury or illness, and end up costing your hospital thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars in the long run.
By focusing on integrating each area of your hospital into your expiration date management system, you’ll not only save your hospital from providing poor patient care, you’ll also save it from spending unnecessary amounts of money. The effects of expired products on a hospital’s budget can be substantial: as much as 30 percent of physician preference items (PPI) end up in the trash because they expire before they can be used.
If you didn’t think of inventory expiration as a major problem before, now’s the time to change your mindset.
4 Areas in Your Hospital that May Be Hiding Expired Products
Effectively managing your inventory requires a cohesive expiration date management system that can keep track of supplies and medical equipment no matter where they are located in your hospital.
You may be thinking, “I know where my inventory is located, and I have a good system in place for making sure that products don’t expire before they’re used.” However, there are a few places in your hospital that may be evading your manual efforts and hiding expired products.
Supply storage room
This is the spot in your hospital that probably comes to mind when you think about expired products. After all, it’s the area where new supplies and equipment are stored when they first enter the hospital, and it’s where staff come to replenish their own personal inventories throughout the hospital. If a product isn’t used very frequently within your hospital, it will expire on the shelves in your supply storage room.
This room has the potential to hold a vast amount of expired inventory, and needs to be kept organized so that expired items can be removed before they are used on a patient. It’s also integral to keep track of which items are expiring often so that you can determine if you really need to include them in your next supply order. By using a system that alerts you to outliers in your supply, you’ll be able to stay on top of your inventory without adding another item to your to-do list.
Nurse carts can act as sneaky safe havens for expired items in your hospital. Though these items may have been placed on the cart for safe-keeping while they were still viable for use, it’s possible that a nurse or other member of hospital staff may have forgotten when they added the item to their cart – making it at risk for potential use on a patient after it has expired.
An expiration date management system will allow you to keep track of these items even though they aren’t in your storage supply room. Date Check Pro specifies which area of the hospital a close dated item is located in, and notifies your staff when they should be prepared to remove it from the shelf (or in this case, the cart!). With in-app accountability for your date-checking employees, you can ensure that only current supplies are used on patients.
Many of the high-pressure situations in your hospital take place in the Operating Room, so it’s easy to see why this location would be a high priority for expiration date management. When a surgeon or assistant is in the midst of a life-altering procedure, the last thing they want is to discover that the equipment that they’ve reached for has expired. It’s also the last thing a patient wants to hear when they come out of an operation.
In a recent survey of healthcare providers, it was found that 20% of OR inventory management processes are manual, and that 61% of hospitals rely on a mix of manual and automated processes to manage their inventory. When a process as important as this involves too many manual steps, something is bound to go awry.
Your overstock room is just as likely as your supply storage room to contain expired inventory. I’ll put it this way: there’s a good chance that you’re restocking products that aren’t used frequently in your hospital.
When you continue to restock products that have not yet been used in your supply storage room, you create an overstock selection that carries the risk of expiring before it ever makes it to your supply shelves.
Implementing an expiration date management system allows you to keep track of your inventory, and provides you with alerts when a product or equipment is about to expire, no matter where in your hospital it is located. This allows the members of your staff who are tasked with date-checking to focus only on the products that are about to expire instead of relying on a periodical check of your entire inventory. Once you have this process in place, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your inventory is up-to-date, that your hospital staff has the products and equipment that they need to do their job correctly, and that you’re saving your hospital a significant amount of money by removing expired products from the shelves before they’re used.
Ready to take action on your hospital’s expired inventory? Click the link below to download our eBook on this important topic.