In order for facilities with instrument-level tracking to get the most value out of their solution, they should be leveraging the benefits of scanning instruments at each process step of the perioperative loop—decontamination, assembly, sterilization, case cart assembly, and the operating room.

To give you a glimpse at the value that comes from scanning instruments, we’re going to outline five risks that facilities encounter when they choose not to scan at assembly.

No Proof of Sterility

How do you know that your instruments were sterilized?

Without individual instrument scans, there is no way for the CS and OR team to know which exact instruments were actually assembled in any given set. Because instruments migrate so frequently between sets, it’s important to scan at assembly to give every single instrument an origin. Here’s why it’s so important: In the event that a patient’s case results in an infection, the facility can identify and track the lifecycle of the specific instruments that were used on that given patient. This critical data is only available with assembly scans. Without scanning at assembly and then tracking the instrument, there’s no proof of sterility for instruments, which puts the entire facility at risk.

Assembly Errors

Do you know what instruments are in your set?

The risk of human error can never be eliminated; no matter how trained an individual is or how many years of experience they have, error is still a possibility. When it comes to assembling sets, every precautionary action possible should be taken to decrease the risk of human error. By scanning at assembly, CS teams can ensure the correct instrument is placed into the correct set with the aid of images, SOPs, and functionality built into CensiTrac that validates the instrument scanned against the instrument required on the count sheet. These tools not only reduce assembly errors but also aid with new tech training.

Without marked instruments and scanning at assembly, the risk of human error is increased, posing a threat to patient safety in the OR.

High Maintenance Costs

How many times have your scissors been used this month?

It’s common for facilities to have some items that are used more frequently than others. Without scanning your marked instruments, you can’t see which items have high utilization rates. That becomes a problem when it’s time for maintenance.

Facilities who don’t base maintenance schedules on actual utilization data end up sending out all of their instruments for scheduled maintenance, regardless of use. For example, even if a pair of scissors has only been used once since the last time it was sent out for maintenance and doesn’t require sharpening, it will still be sent out when the scheduled maintenance is due—a cost that is unnecessary and drives up the maintenance budget. When this scenario happens with multiple instruments across the whole instrument inventory, it results in high maintenance costs and over-maintenance of many items.

By scanning at assembly, you can track individual instrument utilization. With data showing how often any given instrument is used, you can base maintenance schedules on actual utilization preventing undue maintenance of instruments that haven’t actually been used. Using data to inform your maintenance process helps reduce maintenance costs and prevents you from sending out whole sets out for repair when only part of the set needs it.

Lack of Inventory Control and Optimization

How much have you spent on instruments this year?

Most facilities don’t know how many instruments they have because they’ve never actually counted them. When you mark and scan your instruments, you know exactly how many instruments you have which can open up ways for your department to begin optimizing that valuable and costly inventory.

For example, if a doctor requests a new set, you can use your inventory data to see which items are actually being used and which ones are going unused. From there, you can investigate whether any of those unused items can be repurposed for the new set request and avoid spending money on all new instruments. That data is only possible with the use of marked instruments and the tracking of those instruments.

Unable to Utilize the Full Value of an Enterprise Solution

Are you using data to drive enterprise decision making?

For facilities that are a part of a larger network, having marked instruments that are scanned on a regular basis provides data that can benefit the entire network. The same data that you can see at a facility level can also be available across the entire network.

You can then use that data to drive decision making and make your facilities more efficient and cost-effective. For example, if you see that instruments are underutilized at one facility, they can be reassigned to locations requiring more inventory saving costly instrument purchases. Yearly asset inventory processes also become easier with each instrument mark providing a facility of origin and scanning processes providing an exact current location.

Once again, none of that data is possible without each CS department within each facility marking, scanning, and tracking instruments.



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AST Guidelines for Best Practices for Laundering Scrub Attire. April 14, 2017.

Laundry and textile hygiene in healthcare and beyond. July 1, 2019.

Role of healthcare apparel and other healthcare textiles in the transmission of pathogens: a review of the literature. March 31, 2015.

Study of bacterial flora associated with mobile phones of healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers. June 9, 2017.

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See the Power of Marked Instruments

Marked instruments don’t just reduce maintenance costs. They also help you track down to the patient level and provide documentation that proper cleaning, sterilization, and assembly procedures were followed. See the power that marked instruments can have for your facility.