What Does Your Equipment Sterilization Process Really Cost?
On-site sterilization is crucial. It’s also costly. When you consider the price of sterilization equipment, utilities, trained staff manhours, and the space needed for sterilization teams to work effectively and store sterilized items, your sterilization costs might be higher than you think!
With this article, we’re going to explore the cost of continually re-sterilizing equipment versus some of your alternatives, to help you decide which method is most cost-effective while remaining compliant.
Examining Costs in Your Sterile Processing Department
Let’s start with a look at the physical department itself. We’ll perform a thought experiment here because most sterile supply rooms are never shut down. They are usually bustling along 365 days a year, some operating 24 hours a day, holidays included.
Consider Your Sterilization Equipment
Imagine your Central Supply void of human staff. Mentally flick on the lights and wander around the department.
First, you’ll probably notice the expensive sterilization equipment. How much have you invested in your equipment over the last decade? Depending on the size of your facility, your answer may be anywhere from $5,000 to $50 million! Ask yourself:
- How current is equipment?
- Will it need to be replaced soon?
- How much do they cost in utilities or consumables (gas)?
- Do they stand up to the workload, or are they often repaired or replaced?
- How soon will their warranties expire?
Whether you’re looking at a room full of bright, new gas sterilizers or a basement of antique autoclaves, know that single-use medical devices can reduce the workload on your equipment and lower your utility costs. Equipment used less lasts longer. It requires fewer maintenance costs, fewer expensive gas purchases.
Look at Occupied Floor Space
We think University of Rochester Medical Center says it best: “The Sterile Processing Department (Central Supply, or Sterile Supply as it is also known), comprises that service within the hospital in which medical/surgical supplies and equipment… are cleaned, prepared, processed, stored, and issued for patient care.” Larger medical organizations divide this department into four sections:
- Assembly & Packaging
- Sterile Storage
It’s an expensive process, overall. But an essential one.
If you’re considering remodeling for usable space or adding a wing to the hospital, you understand how precious floor space is to a medical facility. It’s costly to build, costly to own, and costly to insure square footage. That’s before we even consider special climate requirements in your packaging area recommended by the CDC. Ask yourself:
- How much space is used in your sterile supply department?
- Is adequate storage space a concern for your sterilization staff?
- Is everything clearly labeled and well organized, per regulation, or is every inspection a crisis in sterile supply?
Imagine if you could cut down on both storage space and staff stress, with obp’s single-use medical devices. How much of an impact would that have on operations in CS? Imagine having a whole new room available for other purposes. Would that help the hospital workflow?
Consider the Staffing Expenses
Here at obp, we respect medical professionals and the staff who support them. Our vision is to improve and rethink healthcare delivery continuously. As medical professionals ourselves, we are continually uncovering opportunities that transform commonplace medical devices into cutting-edge solutions.
But we understand that from an HR & bookkeeping perspective, quality sterilization staff is expensive! Especially when they work overnight shifts, holidays and overtime hours attempting to keep up with a demand for sterile supplies. Per ZipRecruiter, the highest-paid sterilization techs work in New York for about $25 / per hour, and North Carolina is at the low end of the spectrum at about $18 / per hour.
Your HR department would jump in right away here, to point out that staff costs more than just payroll. There are payroll taxes, insurance benefits, workers comp considerations, and unlimited liability concerns.
Let’s assume your organization pays sterilization staff somewhere in the middle. We’ll say $20 / hour. Think again about payroll taxes, insurance, and the like. Do you realize that a single overtime hour in central supply costs you upwards of $40 and maybe close to $50 depending on your state?
- How much payroll is your central supply department costing annually? What about the benefits?
- What if you could chip away at that overall payroll costs by even 10%?
- How much, in terms of payroll, would your organization save by switching to single-use, disposable medical devices?
We’re not trying to take anything away from sterilization technologists. They perform a crucial function. We feel that hospital resources don’t stretch very far in the realm of overtime hours. And our products can save hospitals many thousands of dollars in sterilization staff expenses.
How Much Money Would Your Hospital Save by Switching to Single-Use Devices?
Every medical facility we work with faces unique challenges. Some are older facilities with outdated equipment. Others suffer from “Brain Drain,” they are small, rural hospitals that have a hard time keeping quality staff (who leave for greener financial pastures). Even the biggest, state-of-the-art hospitals face crushing costs in Central Supply.
- What if you could shut down CS for one shift per 24 hours? How much could you save?
- What if you could shut it down for one day in seven?
- What if you could shut it down for even one day a month?
A Note About Off-Site Clinics
Off-site clinics present special sterilization risks; so much so that we recently published a blog on that very topic. If your organization boasts a team of off-site clinic professionals, who focus on providing medical care to the underserved population, we salute you! And we ask you to consider how much time and money your team could save by switching to our self-lit, single-use medical devices.
Would you like to learn more about our single-use illuminating devices? Contact us today! We would be happy to walk you through the potential savings to your organization.