Q&A: How UMC of Southern Nevada saved $750K in drug waste
Harvey Riceberg, inpatient pharmacy supervisor at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada tells Healthcare Finance News Editor René Letourneau how the organization saved $750,000 in drug waste costs by implementing a new technology into their drug administering process.
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Q: How did UMCSN achieve such large savings in a one-year period?
A: When we drilled down to it, drug waste and duplicate inventory were creating a significant expense for UMC. We also faced a challenge for intravenously administered drugs in the technology we used for reconstituting and delivering drug doses – the vial adapters we were using were not compatible with all the types of IV bags the hospital relied on for patient care. As a result of this incompatibility, we had to order a greater number of IV bags to ensure that UMC had enough duplicate inventory on hand.
To address this incompatibility challenge, we looked for a technological solution and have had success through a needleless vial adapter system that is compatible with drug vials and IV bags from any manufacturer, including those available through automated dispensing devices located on critical care floors.
We can attribute a significant amount of our $750,000 savings to this change in technology. Now, once a prescription order is in the system, clinicians can go to one of the automated dispensing systems on the floor to retrieve the dose needed for the patient, rather than wait for the hospital pharmacy to fulfill and deliver the order. Our clinicians are then able to administer the drug dose to the patient immediately.
Since clinicians are able to obtain these drug doses immediately before administration, the risk of a dose going unused is slim. With fewer unused drug doses and less wasted drug product, pharmacy technicians are preparing and delivering far fewer replacement doses. This time savings meant fewer technicians were needed in the IV room, which resulted in substantial cost savings to the hospital.
Q: Can you explain the basic principles of the technology used to reconstitute drugs at the bedside?
A: When considering the technological options in the healthcare market today, it’s important to understand what your organization needs, and where the cost challenges come from. For UMC, we decided on a technology called Vial2Bag from West Pharmaceutical Services, which is a needleless vial adapter system with universal connectivity. Since the Vial2Bag connected to standard IV bags through the IV set port, allowing it to be used with all manufacturers’ IV bags, clinicians can reconstitute powdered or lyophilized drugs directly into IV bags at the patient’s bedside.