How to Reduce Hoarding Habits in Hospitals

“Have you tried checking Mitch’s cart?”

If you’re looking for a missing supply in your hospital, you’ve probably heard this response. It’s common for supplies and equipment to leave the supply room and never return, even if they haven’t been used. Nurses and physicians gather and (whether they know it or not) hide the tools that they prefer, and those missing supplies contribute to your hospital system’s supply waste issue.

Hoarding is rampant in healthcare culture, but it’s time to make a change within your organization. Whether you’ve experienced an expired item being used on a patient because it was hoarded outside of your supply room, or you’re simply hemorrhaging funds because you’re overordering supplies that you don’t need, consider the following three tips to reduce hoarding habits in your hospital.


3 Tips to Reduce Hoarding in Hospitals

Review preference cards

Though preference cards can seem like a nuisance to your physicians (aren’t they already doing enough?!), they’re the most straightforward way of collecting information about the supplies your physicians love to have in the room when they’re working with a patient.

You might be thinking, “How does buying the right supplies help me to reduce hoarding?”

Hoarding behavior is not caused by a disdain for the supply room or general laziness, it’s caused by the belief that preferred supplies will not be available to physicians and nurses when they need them. If you are constantly reviewing preference cards to determine which supplies you always need to have on hand (and which you can weed out), you can circumvent typical hoarding habits and provide a fully-stocked work environment for your staff.


Order proactively

In the same vein as the tip above, ordering proactively can help reduce hoarding habits in your hospital. Your staff are finding their preferred supplies in your supply room, bringing them into their patient care rooms, ORs, and their nurse carts and storing them for later use – putting you at risk for supply waste and expired product use on patients.

If you order proactively so that your staff can be sure that the supplies they prefer and need to perform their daily responsibilities will be available to them when they need it, you’ll find that hoarding (and its subsequent consequences) decreases in your hospital system.


Reward departments that reduce waste

Finally, making nurses and physicians aware of the problem and putting a reward system in place for those who make a conscious effort to avoid supply waste will reduce hoarding.

Keep track of which departments are seeing the largest loss from inventory and supply waste and incentivize them to take actions that will result in less waste for your hospital. Reward the departments that are keeping their waste low through financial or company culture-specific means.

Rampant hoarding has been somewhat of an inside joke in the healthcare system, but its effects are becoming serious as hospital systems continue to grow and require massive amounts of supplies and equipment in order to function. It can be difficult to keep track of all of the moving pieces of your hospital system, but by discouraging hoarding through the three tips above you can take physician and nurse stockpiling out of the equation.