Why Your Surgical Inventory Count Is So Important

Oftentimes surgical instruments can be accidentally thrown away, misplaced or lost on the operating room floor. In worst case, surgical instruments can be accidentally left behind inside a patient’s body following a surgery. Many believe that by implementing a thorough surgical inventory count process you will decrease reported foreign object (RFO) findings inside patients and will also reduce cost for lost inventory in the operating room.

Not only can retained surgical instruments risk your patient’s safety but it also runs the possibility of costing your medical facility a lot of money in the long term.

By establishing required inventory count guidelines in your facility you can eliminate the possibility of leaving surgical instruments behind. Hospitals and medical facilities will make their operating rooms safer for patients, more productive for surgeons, nurses and OR management and will produce less risk for hospital administrators. Depending on your facility’s inventory system, it is always important to keep a few basic rules in mind.

  • Initial count of surgical tools should match your final count.
  • Counting practices should be standardized across all operating rooms within a facility.
  • It is common that new tools can be added to a surgery, in which case these tools should be added to the count sheet or tracking system for final count purposes.
  • The OR team should know who is performing the inventory count prior to the start of surgery. It is typically performed by two or more people (circulator nurse, scrub nurse, technician, etc.) to ensure accuracy.
  • The surgery should not be reported as complete until the final inventory count is done and all surgical tools are accounted for.

There are many products that will assist in retrieving lost tools that may have been dropped on the floor. For example, the operating room attractor magnet can be used to easily pick up metal tools. This device can be very useful in the operating room since many surgical tools, such as suture needles and tips, can be extremely small in size and difficult to find. The operating room attractor magnet can pick up these objects from the operating floor or from underneath objects using its high lifting capacity of ferrous metal.

Standardized counting practices of your OR’s surgical tools will be beneficial to both the medical facility and patients. If you have any questions or comments regarding the importance of your surgical inventory count in the OR, please let us know below.

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