Surgical Brainstorm: Instrument Management

What are the top considerations surgical professionals should make to ensure instruments are well-organized, maintained and secured during all phases of storage, cleaning and use?

By Jeffrey P. Sites

Jeffery P. Sites

Cardiovascular and Extracorporeal Technologies CVTS Consultant, Pemco, Inc.

The management of durable surgical instrumentation has evolved into a complex series of steps and criteria to safely and effectively care for the oldest and most consistently used “life support” technologies. Today’s surgical environment is more demanding than ever, both in quality of manufacture, as well as in durability and retention of original performance. The demands on the proper care of these technologies has also changed dramatically, with better processing capability, but the common denominator is still the properly trained technician and clinician to properly handle the instruments while in use and when being processed for reuse.

In the 21st century, the reusable surgical instrument is more than ever a critical part of the operation – disposables save less money over all than the properly maintained durable instrument, and with proper care saves our healthcare system considerable costs. The clinician and administrators need to work more closely together than ever to decide the proper and most beneficial – the safest – combination of resources to care for today’s surgical patient. In a cost analysis of disposable vs. reusable coronary cannula, reusable product paid for itself in 20 procedures on average. Life expectancy was over seven years, saving thousands in one part of cardiac surgery. As clinicians, we must weigh safety, performance and economic responsibility against convenience, while we move our practices forward to best practices in surgery. The availability of durable, specialized, state-of-theart surgical instrumentation is vast! It is up to us to be proactive.


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