How Big is the Hospital Medical Supply Waste Problem?

How Big is the Hospital Medical Supply Waste Problem?

Medical supply waste costs Americans billions of dollars every year. Soaring health care costs caused the average person to spend $9,990 on their annual care costs in 2015. In the 60s, people spent $146 per person on health care.

When adjusting for inflation, people in the 60s spent 4% of their earnings on health care, while people today spend 6% of their earnings on care costs.

Healthcare costs are expected to grow faster than economic growth.

Waste is a major contributor to the rising healthcare costs in the United States. Insurance costs are a political focus, with politicians arguing for everything from a single payer system to privatization of Medicaid.

The waste problem is serious when you look at the statistics. The National Academy of Medicine found that, as of 2012, the health care system wasted $765 billion annually. This is a significant amount of waste.

You could pay for coverage for nearly 50% of Americans with the money wasted in the health care system. Health care waste costs surpass the budget of the Defense Department. Waste has a direct correlation to rising health care premiums.

Polls show that people don’t want politicians to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Instead, people want lower costs of their doctor visits, prescriptions and health insurance costs. Waste management can help lower premiums with the right implementation.

John Hopkins found that $15 million in new medical supplies were thrown away in 2014.

It’s not entirely the fault of the hospital, nurses and doctors – it’s a systematic problem that is complex.

Bundling Medical Supplies is a Growing Concern

Suppliers offer a bundled option that gives the most common items in one package to hospitals and health care providers. For example, emergency rooms will have dozens of items packaged neatly into a bundle.

The bundling allows for the supplies to be readily available and makes emergency rooms more efficient.

Packages and bundles exist with several products. Diapers may be bundled with bed and chux pads, cleaning supplies and other items.

Once the package is opened, the items are meant for a specific patient only. The items cannot be packaged, opened and used for a different patient. If a patient uses the diapers and nothing else, the remaining items in the bundle are discarded.

It’s a wasteful practice that is effective in some measures and wasteful in most circumstances.

Non-profit organizations have stepped in to help lower the amount of waste in the industry. Non-profits will ship unused medical supplies to developing countries to help provide medical supplies to those in need.

But the waste problem still causes a strain on healthcare costs in the United States.

The industry will also discard key medical equipment once an updated model is available. Ultrasound machines, which often cost $25,000, are discarded when new models are available.

Hospitals and emergency rooms that are contributing to medical supply waste need to act effectively to reduce the waste problem. Implementing incentives to reduce waste, reselling older equipment and utilizing bundled items with more effectiveness is a great start.