Using disposable products to prevent cross-contamination is a no-brainer; after all you are protecting your patients and your staff members from infection, while saving your facility thousands of dollars from healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs). However, evaluating and implementing potential disposable products can sometimes be a complex task that has a lot of variables.
First, evaluate the biggest impact of having the product. With stretched budgets and resources how do you allocate your time, energy, and finances to make the largest infection control impact? When it comes to evaluating disposable products here are some factors that will highlight which reusable products have the highest risk of providing cross contamination.
1. Start by looking at products that have the most direct contact to the patients. Products that contact the patient near wounds or surgical sites increase exposure risks.
2. Figure out how many patients does one of these reusable products touch in its lifetime (contamination risk of product to patient)?
3. Figure out how many different units of this reusable product does one patient touch (contamination risk of patient to product)?
4. Ask yourself, how effective is the cleaning of the product?
Second, determine the costs and benefits associated with the product. By preparing the cost justification using the costs and benefits the adoption can make everyone in the facility happy. Let’s look at disposable ECG lead wires. Lead wires are in direct contact with patients, lie near or over surgical sites, are handled by nurses and patients alike and have been shown to be difficult to clean. New disposable lead wires have become available with shielding and the ability to replace the reusable without losing a quality ECG trace. Sounds great, but how are we going to minimize the cost and maximize the return on investment?
There are two types of costs that need to be established, implementation costs, which are based on the product features and the product usage, how it will be used in the hospital. These costs can include installation equipment, staff training and inventory. The best way to reduce these costs is to evaluate new products on their similarity to existing products and procedures. A new product that attaches to a patient just like the reusable product may be favorable over a new system that will require staff training. Additionally, if unique equipment such as adaptor is required for the use of the product, this may be costly to implement or may lock you into one vendor for supply.
Next is usage cost. Usage costs are the costs associated with each patient for the use of the product. In the case of a disposable lead wire, this would be the cost of the product. These costs can be reduced by finding a less expensive product or by changing the usage model use to maximize each products use. For example, if the product can travel with the patient from department to department and last for the entire patient stay, the cost for the product is reduced by not having to use multiple units or sets of the same product.
The benefits (defined as the positive impact in cost savings, patient safety and staff safety) for using a disposable product can be different for each area of the hospital, and for different patient demographics. The largest benefit in cost savings is in the prevention of infections.