Healthcare organizations around the world rely on a vast inventory of medical instruments and supplies in order to function both efficiently and optimally. Medical and healthcare professionals in regional hospitals, local clinics, dentist offices, veterinary establishments, and other such organizations are able to provide their patients the safest care and recovery possible when they have no trouble obtaining the supplies or inventory necessary to perform their duties.
But when these types of organizations fail to painstakingly track their assets and inventory, innocent lives can be affected, even lost. In a setting where having a particular medicine readily available is literally a matter of life or death for a patient, not knowing where that medicine is when it’s needed can cause unnecessary — and oftentimes avoidable — loss of life. At first, this statement might seem extreme, but on more than one occasion, the lack of available assets due to cataloging errors or outdated records has directly resulted in the loss of a patient.
For example, back in 2011, an 88-year-old man named Malcolm Land from British Columbia, Canada died during hip replacement surgery because his doctor claimed he was not provided enough medical supplies to perform the operation. Land’s surgeon said in a letter to Canada’s Interior Health department that he’d requested three tubes of special cement for the day of the surgery, but only one had been provided. The error wasn’t caught until the procedure was already underway and incapable of being stopped.
In Britain, eleven cases of deaths related to broken or unavailable medical devices were reported to the National Health Service Commissioning Board in 2012. One patient died because the battery in his life support machine was dead, while another patient suffered a fatal heart attack because there was no oxygen cylinder provided during his transportation to a new ward. Overall, studies estimate that in the last decade alone, 100,000 faulty or failed devices in UK medical organizations have directly resulted in at least 2300 deaths and 22,000 injuries. Many of these could have been avoided with diligent attention to tracking medical assets, their service histories, and the status of their availability.
Healthcare organizations not only risk losing patients’ lives when they fail to properly upkeep their asset and inventory records, but they also lose the trust of citizens. Deaths caused by a lack of supplies put a black mark on the reputation of the medical organization responsible for related deaths. These medical companies and businesses must also suffer the financial costs of improper asset tracking, stemming from problems such as lawsuits for wrongful patient deaths or from the over-purchasing of inventory already available but not recorded.
The importance of asset tracking in the healthcare industry cannot be overstated. While many establishments already have such a system in place, there is always room for improvement, especially when lives are at stake. Essentially, the best, most accurate way to record medical inventory and supplies with little room for error is a computerized asset tracking solution tailored to the needs of each medical organization. A healthcare asset tracking and management program provide many benefits to these establishments, not the least of which is avoiding unnecessary injuries and patient deaths.