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Archive September 2019 XX, No. 9

Financial Management: Taming a Tangled Suture Inventory

Bringing order to a disorderly suture supply - on a single suture cart in a single location.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


AdventHealth Surgery Center Lenexa (Kan.)
STITCH IN TIME Valerie Heckmaster, MBA, BSN, RN, CNOR, charge nurse at AdventHealth Surgery Center Lenexa (Kan.), whipped her facility's unwieldy suture inventory into shape.

There were boxes of suture hiding everywhere at AdventHealth Surgery Center Lenexa (Kan.), some opened and some outdated, some stored on the big suture cart and some stored on smaller suture carts, enough suture to stitch a thousand incisions and to sink a supply room budget.

"We had multiple open boxes of the same suture stored on 4 suture carts in multiple locations," says Valerie Heckmaster, MBA, BSN, RN, CNOR, the charge nurse who won the OR Excellence Award for Financial Management for taming the overstocked suture situation at her 4-OR facility.

When suture expired, as it often would, staff would remove and discard an average of 15-20 boxes at a time — some expired boxes were still sealed, says Ms. Heckmaster, adding that the vicious cycle would repeat itself when materials management automatically reordered the expired suture without investigating whether the ASC's 18 surgeons were still using that particular suture, or if there were more boxes already in stock.

The ASC was routinely stocking 145 different types of suture. Ms. Heckmaster set out to untangle the suture mess by decreasing suture inventory to a more reasonable and realistic level, storing all suture on one suture cart in one location, establishing a PAR (Periodic Automatic Replenishment) level inventory system based on usage levels and educating staff on first-in, first-out (FIFO).

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