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New survey reveals how hospital supply chains affect nurses, patient safety, and margins

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April 15, 2021

By Carol Davis

Nurses face significant supply chain management problems that impact patient safety, efficiency, and hospital margins, says a market report released today that includes results from a nursing survey.

The report, Nurses: The Secret Factor for Better Supply Chainsan annual market report issued by healthcare inventory provider Syft, highlights hospital supply chain challenges at the point-of-use and key areas that require improvement. The nursing survey was conducted by Sage Growth Partners, a healthcare consultancy, to understand nurses’ perspective of hospital supply chains, according to a press release.

Of 100 nurses surveyed—50 nurse leaders and 50 frontline nurses—in February, 86% said they leave procedures to hunt for supplies at least occasionally, according to the report.

Some 25% said they don’t always check product expiration or recall information, which increases risk of patient safety issues; 48% attributed this to lack of time.

Frontline nurses were more likely than nurse leaders to report frequent supply shortages, with nearly 10% more of them saying they occur often or occasionally, according to survey results.

The report also revealed a disconnect between nurse leaders and frontline nurses regarding how often nurses check product expiration and recall information prior to opening an item. While 84% of nurse leaders said their teams always check this information, only 66% of frontline nurses said they always check.

Other findings from the survey include:

Nurses encounter significant supply chain documentation problems

  • 80% of nurses said they want more supply chain automation tools
  • 95% said inaccurate physician preference cards decrease their efficiency
  • 65% said their current supply documentation system is too time consuming

Supply chain problems take a  significant toll on nurse stress and burnout

  • 86% said their supply chain documentation system causes them stress
  • 33% said hospital leadership is not working hard to reduce OR nurse stress
  • 18% said they have considered leaving their current role due to supply chain problems

Supply chain problems result in excess waste and lower margins

  • 76% of nurses said supply shortages are common, and 23% said that the greatest impact of this is reduced revenue
  • 33% lack access to waste-reduction tools such as barcode scanning
  • 12% said their OR wastes supplies in more than 25% of cases

“Hospitals are taking steps to improve their supply chains after seeing vulnerabilities exposed by COVID-19, but these findings show that they won’t be successful until they start factoring in the nurse experience,” Todd Plesko, CEO of Syft, said in a press release.

“Nurses are experiencing pervasive and troubling challenges related to efficiency, patient safety, waste, and mental health due to supply chains not recognizing their needs,” he said. “Creating a more nurse-centric supply chain is critical to every hospital’s success.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand. This story first ran on HealthLeaders Media.




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