How Hospital Supply Chains Impact Nurses, Patient Safety, and Margins

April 12, 2021
MHE Staff

Recent report from Syft highlights hospital supply chain challenges at the point-of-use and key areas that need improvement.

Nurses face significant supply chain management problems that impact efficiency, patient safety, and hospital margins, according to a recent survey from Syft, a leading national provider of healthcare inventory control and end-to-end supply chain cost management software and services.

The survey is conducted of 100 hospital frontline nurses and nurse leaders that sought to understand their perspectives of hospital supply chains, according to the release from Syft.

Conducted in February 2021, key findings include:

  • Nurses encounter significant supply chain documentation problems, and 80% want more supply chain automation tools.
  • Eighty-five percent of nurses said they encounter challenges documenting supplies.
  • Ninety-five percent said inaccurate physician preference cards decrease their efficiency.
  • Sixty-five percent said their current supply documentation system is too time consuming.

Many nurses said supply chain challenges impact patient safety.

  • Eighty-six percent of nurses said they leave procedures to hunt for supplies at least occasionally, and 61% said this increases patient safety risks
  • Twenty-five percent 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

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

  • Eighty-six of nurses said their supply chain documentation system causes them stress
  • Thirty-three percent said hospital leadership is not working hard to reduce OR nurse stress
  • Eighteen percent said they have considered leaving their current role due to supply chain problems

Nurses say supply chain problems result in excess waste and lower margins.

  • Seventy-six percent of nurses said supply shortages are common, and 23% said that the greatest impact of this is reduced revenue
  • Thirty-three percent lack access to waste-reduction tools like barcode scanning
  • Twelve percent said their OR wastes supplies in more than a quarter 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," said Todd Plesko, CEO of Syft. "Nurses are experiencing pervasive and troubling challenges related to efficiency, patient safety, waste, and mental health due to supply chains not recognizing their needs. Creating a more nurse-centric supply chain is critical to every hospital's success."