Evaluation of Operative Waste in a Military Medical Center: Analysis of Operating Room Cost and Waste during Surgical Cases

Am Surg. 2019 Jul 1;85(7):717-720.


Operating rooms (ORs) contribute to at least 40 per cent of hospital costs. There is an existing cost waste in ORs for surgical devices that are opened without being used. There is a paucity of data evaluating the hospital cost of opened but unused OR supplies. The goal of this observational study is to examine the cost of opened but unused OR supplies for general surgery cases. We performed a quality improvement project of OR cost waste by observing 30 cases. Surgical cases of a senior surgeon who had been at the institution for more than five years were evaluated for items opened appropriately and whether the items are used. The cases evaluated ranged from open hernia repairs to robotic-assisted hernia repairs. We found that the cost of instruments opened but not used was $4528.18. Of the cases evaluated, we found that a range of 0 per cent to 27 per cent of total items were wasted, an average of 8.3 per cent. We found that for the open inguinal hernia case, there was minimal waste. The highest waste was among complex cases such as the robotic-assisted inguinal hernia with an average waste and cost of 15.8 per cent and $379. We found that on average for less complex cases such as open inguinal hernia repairs, $1.44 was potentially wasted per case, whereas for more complex cases up to $379 was wasted per case. We identified the outdated preference cards, lack of instrument knowledge, circulating nurse, and surgical technician distractions as reasons for contributing to waste.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Hospital Costs*
  • Hospitals, Military / economics*
  • Humans
  • Operating Rooms / economics*
  • Surgical Equipment / economics*
  • United States