Dispelling the myth of single use device reprocessing: How this ASC saved $59k & diverted 4.7k lbs of waste

Madison (Wis.) Surgery Center's strong commitment to being eco-friendly spurred the surgery center to begin using single-use device reprocessing, which also accrued substantial cost savings for the center. Nearly a year after implementing its SUD reprocessing program, the ambulatory surgery center had net savings totaling $59,789 and diverted nearly 4,738 pounds of waste.

Madison Surgery Center worked with third-party reprocessor Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions to save money and reduce waste. Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions makes the process efficient and easy because time is a valuable resource for ASCs.

"Stryker has a person come in and collect the devices, so the process is relatively hands-off once you put the device in the recycling bin," says Jon Chmielewski, Madison Surgery Center's quality and risk manager. "They have really helped with all we have on our plate."

Stryker and Madison Surgery Center began working together on SUD reprocessing in October 2014, with the ASC initially reprocessing two devices. In March 2015, the ASC added four more instruments to that list, which resulted in increased cost savings for the center.

Similar to many ASCs, Madison Surgery Center did not previously have SUD reprocessing due to a lack of awareness. Deb Plendl, the ASC's administrator, said Stryker was the key to making the surgery center aware of the environmental and cost benefits SUD reprocessing provides. However, many providers and centers may be hesitant to utilize SUD reprocessing due to the stigma surrounding the process.

"I think people really don't understand the process that takes place," Mr. Chmielewski says. "They think they are getting back used instruments that are not as sharp and do not have all the same specifications as devices that were not previously used in surgery. However, third-party companies go through rigorous FDA standards [to comply with SUD reprocessing regulations]."

Third-party companies, like Stryker, will take the used device and dismantle the device down to its most basic components. Then, the companies clean and test every part, so providers receive a device that equals, or surpasses the standards of an original equipment manufacturer, says Mr. Chmielewski.

Journal of Medical Devices published a study which found OEM single-use bipolar and ultrasound diathermy devices were nearly 4.9 times more defective than reprocessed devices. Some hospitals accrued more than $1 million in savings each year when using reprocessed single-use devices, according to the study.

To ensure they were compliant with the SUD program, Madison Surgery Center educated their staff members. When Madison Surgery Center initially implemented the SUD program, staff members and providers watched a Stryker video about the process, outlining how the company takes care of the devices, which eased staff concerns about the process.

"Our recycle committee and team leaders have been instrumental for new staff coming in and making sure people are compliant," says Gina Schoenherr, the ASC's OR manager. "At Madison Surgery Center, we do a lot of recycling and Stryker really fit in with what we are trying to do as a center — we want to be proactive about our products and ensure they are disposable."

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