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Published July 2020
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Case Study

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust improves patient safety with surgical instrument tracking

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Key Results

All surgical instruments can now be fully tracked, from procedure to decontamination

Instrument inventory is accurate and consistently up to date

The problem

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) was struggling to manage its surgical instrument stocks.

The trust had no way of knowing which individual instruments had been used for any given procedure. Also, it was impossible to track an instrument through the decontamination process. This meant that, should patient safety be compromised, there was no way of tracing whether an instrument has been correctly decontaminated.

With UHMBT operating from three main hospital sites, including two full emergency departments, a solution was required that was both thorough and scalable.

The solution

The team at UHMBT marked individual instruments using unique GS1 Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI) keys, encoded in GS1 DataMatrix 2D barcodes.

A marking machine was purchased, and the team began a programme whereby all instruments were marked using dot peening technology. This cost-effective method meant there was no need for additional instrument purchases.

UHMB then purchased scanners to scan the instruments throughout the entire decontamination process.

The results

The staff at UHMBT can now track all instruments used in every patient procedure. This improvement in traceability is ultimately a more robust safeguard ensuring greater patient safety.

Additionally, individual instruments can now be identified even when they have migrated from other instrument sets. As such, sets can be reassembled rather than requiring new purchases.

Finally, staff always have an accurate and up-to-date inventory of all instruments in use throughout the Trust.

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