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Can efficient supply management in the operating room save millions?

Park, Kyung W; Dickerson, Cheryl

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: April 2009 - Volume 22 - Issue 2 - p 242–248
doi: 10.1097/ACO.0b013e32832798ef
Ethics, economics and outcome: Edited by Alex Macario

Purpose of review Supply expenses occupy an ever-increasing portion of the expense budget in today's increasingly technologically complex operating rooms. Yet, little has been studied and published in the anesthesia literature. This review attempts to bring the topic of supply management to anesthesiologists, who play a significant role in operating room management.

Recent findings Little investigative work has been performed on supply management. Anecdotal reports suggest the benefits of a perpetual inventory system over a periodic inventory system. A perpetual inventory system uses utilization data to update inventory on hand continually and this information is linked to purchasing and restocking, whereas a periodic inventory system counts inventory at some regular intervals (such as annually) and uses average utilization to set par levels.

Summary On the basis of application of operational management concepts, ways of taking advantage of a perpetual inventory system to achieve savings in supply expenses are outlined. These include linking the operating room scheduling and supply order system, distributor-driven just-in-time delivery of case carts, continual updating of preference lists based on utilization patterns, increasing inventory turnovers, standardizing surgical practices, and vendor consignment of high unit-cost items such as implants. In addition, Lean principles of visual management and elimination of eight wastes may be applicable to supply management.

The Ohio State University Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio, USA

Correspondence to Kyung W. Park, MD, MBA, Associate Vice President/Physician Director of Perioperative Services, Professor of Clinical Anesthesiology and of Surgery, The Ohio State University Medical Center, 450 W. 10th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210, USA Tel: +1 614 366 7914; fax: +1 614 293 3426; e-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.