Guest Post: Improving Hospital Equipment Availability


Mark's note: This is a guest post made available for me to post by Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

by Laurie Wolf and Nancy Sigillito

The full article is available as a PDF download at the bottom of the post.

From the intro of the article:

For years, a constant struggle existed to get patients at Barnes-Jewish Hospital (BJH) the right medical equipment promptly.

As one nurse described, “our process of providing our patients with necessary equipment was broken. We had no mechanism for tracking equipment that was ordered, no feel for if our inventories are adequate, no follow-up for broken equipment, and most importantly, no way of ensuring that equipment got to patients in a timely manner.”

This broken process resulted in a classic “work-around” by nursing staff. In the case of IV pumps, nurses would be fast to claim a pump from a discharged patient's room, do a quick cleaning off the record, and use it for their just-admitted patient. Or, they would go to a neighboring unit to “borrow” one— without really intending to return it. Needless to say, nurses were extremely frustrated at the lack of readily available equipment.

(PDF Link)

Benefits from the improvement work included:

“Since introducing the process throughout Barnes-Jewish, the wait time for equipment has improved considerably. The time to get an IV pump ranged from 40 minutes to 4 hours, 36 minutes (with a mean of 2 hours, 7 minutes). With the new par levels, the wait time is completely eliminated. In addition, the rate of lost equipment dropped almost in half (from 12% to 6.9%).”


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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