All the Questions You Need to Ask
Ternio Newsroom Staff | March 2023
Ensuring the safety and reliability of your surgical instruments and supplies is critical to providing quality patient care. One of the most important decisions you will make is selecting the right repair and restoration partner for your facility. The wrong partner could result in delayed procedures, increased costs, and even patient harm.
The Risks of Inadequate Instrument Care
Research has shown that inadequate maintenance and repair of surgical instruments can result in increased infection rates, patient harm, and decreased instrument longevity. A study[i] published in the NIH National Library of Medicine found that the intra-operative failure of poor-quality surgical instruments occurred at least 2036 times during the study period (August 2004 – December 2010) resulting in patient harm. Additionally, in a documented 2005 incident[ii] a laparoscopic instrument broke during a procedure, necessitating an additional incision to retrieve the broken part from the patient, causing additional stress to the physicians, adding time to the procedure, and increasing the risk of patient harm. Post operative investigation of this incident revealed that the break occurred at a soldered joint on the tip of the instrument. Since the instrument in this case had been used more than 2000 times, it had likely been repaired on multiple occasions.
It is clear that selecting the right surgical instrument repair and restoration partner is critical to maintaining the safety and reliability of your instruments and supplies.
The “Must Ask” Questions
So, what should you be asking when selecting your next surgical instrument repair and restoration partner? Here are the “must ask” questions to guide you in your decision-making:
1. What is your experience repairing and restoring the specific types of instruments we use?
It is important to select a partner with experience repairing and restoring the specific types of instruments used in your facility. This ensures that your instruments will be properly serviced and maintained, leading to increased longevity and reliability.
2. What types of tests or evaluations do you perform on surgical instruments after repair and restoration to ensure they are functioning properly?
You need to have a clear understanding of how your instrument repair partner conducts testing, evaluation, and certification of repaired instruments before they are returned to you.
Listen carefully to how they respond to this question; The answers you get are likely to reveal the level of knowledge and experience that they bring to the table.
3. Can you provide documentation of your repair and restoration processes?
It is important to have documentation of repair and restoration processes, not only to ensure that the partner is following industry standards and best practices, but also so that you know the status of your instruments throughout the process. Is the onus on you to constantly call and follow up on your instruments, or will your partner provide you with a way to track your instruments in near-real time through push notifications or an online tool?
4. What is your turnaround time for instrument repair and restoration?
Turnaround time for instrument repair and restoration is an important consideration. Delays can result in postponed procedures and increased costs. It is important to select a partner with a quick and reliable turnaround time.
5. What is your pricing structure for repair and restoration services?
Pricing is an important factor to consider when selecting a repair and restoration partner. It is important to select a partner with transparent pricing and no hidden fees to ensure that costs are managed effectively.
In addition to these questions, it is important to evaluate the partner’s overall reputation and track record. Look for online reviews and testimonials from other hospitals and healthcare professionals to ensure that the partner has a good reputation in the industry.
Value versus Price
Some hospitals have made the mistake of selecting a repair and restoration partner based solely on price, without considering technical expertise, experience, or reputation. The quality of repair components used is another important consideration. As an example, all powder coating compounds are not created equally. Cheap materials are more subject to failure and may erode more quickly over time than higher quality materials, resulting in more frequent need to re-coat. Failure to properly evaluate these factors can result in poor quality repairs, delays in instrument turnaround time, and even patient harm. The oft-repeated advice that “The lowest price may not always be the best value” applies here. It is important to consider all factors when selecting a surgical instrument repair and restoration partner.
Selecting the right surgical instrument repair and restoration partner is critical to maintaining the safety and reliability of your instruments and supplies. By asking the right questions and considering all factors, you can make an informed decision and provide quality patient care.