Prospective observational study.
This study aims to quantify the incidence of intraoperative waste in spine surgery and to examine the efficacy of an educational program directed at surgeons to induce a reduction in the intraoperative waste.
Summary of background data.
Spine procedures are associated with high costs. Implants are a main contributor of these costs. Intraoperative waste further exacerbates the high cost of surgery.
Data were collected during a 25-month period from one academic medical center (15-month observational period, 10-month post–awareness program). The total number of spine procedures and the incidence of intraoperative waste were recorded prospectively. Other variables recorded included the type of product wasted, cost associated with the product or implant wasted, and reason for the waste.
Intraoperative waste occurred in 20.2% of the procedures prior to the educational program and in 10.3% of the procedures after the implementation of the program (P < 0.0001). Monthly costs associated with surgical waste were, on average, $17680 prior to the awareness intervention and $5876 afterwards (P = 0.0006). Prior to the intervention, surgical waste represented 4.3% of total operative spine budget. After the awareness program this proportion decrease to an average of 1.2% (P = 0.003).
Intraoperative waste in spine surgery exacerbates the already costly procedures. Extrapolation of this data to the national level leads to an annual estimate of $126,722,000 attributable to intraoperative spine waste. A simple educational program proved to be and continues to be effective in making surgeons aware of the import of their choices and the costs related to surgical waste.