My surgery “hacks” …10 ways to make your center life easier

My surgery “hacks” …10 ways to make your center life easier

I recently had the opportunity (and honor) to speak at OR Excellence in San Antonio.  I am grateful to Outpatient Surgery Magazine for inviting me.  It was a great experience.  I got to speak about “ideas that work”, and shared ways to make life easier in our surgery centers.

From that experience, I decided to share 10 of my “life hacks” for surgery…ways that I have found that make managing surgery a little bit easier…a summary of some of my favorite blog tips to date:

  1.  Document nearest outdates on bins, shelves, or storage containers.  As stock is inventoried, added, or checked, have staff note the nearest outdate and write it on a sticker or piece of tape, and include the date when it was created.  (example:  10/29/15:  12/15).  It provides an alert to pull and replace the outdated  stock before it expires.
  2. Create a “staff communication” list.  Use it to jot things that come up during the day to share with staff, and get in the habit of using it regularly. I keep mine on a colored piece of paper so it is always handy.  Pull it when you are ready for your meeting to prepare your agenda.
  3. Use your e mail to alert you when staff and credentialing file items are due.  Create as meetings with reminders so you don’t miss an updated BLS card copy or TB result.
  4. Have your materials manager print the SDS sheet if needed when a new potentially harmful item is ordered.  Educate them as to what type of supply would need to be added, and have them update the book as needed.  If the item replaces another (as an example, a new prep), have them retire the old  as well.
  5. Color code your patient name bands to alert your staff to allergies.  Place white on patients with no allergies, red with, and another color if an arm can’t be used ie:  mastectomy).
  6. Have your patients review their name bands for corrections before placing on their arm.  Saves time and challenges if there is a misspelling or DOB issue.
  7. Use laundry baskets to store supplies.  Items like IV fluids and tubing will be well contained.
  8. Have staff “sign off” on completed picked cases.  Shows that the cases are picked complete, and there are no missing items when it’s time to open.
  9. Identify ready patients.  Utilize a color clip or sign on a curtain so that staff aren’t having to check if a patient is ready in pre-op.
  10. Document your educational activities as in-services.  Don’t miss out on noting informal learning.  Even if it is a couple of staff members reviewing manufacturer’s guidelines or a review of a policy or process, write up the learning and have those involved sign off.

There is a list of some of my favorites.  Please feel free to comment or e mail yours to  …I would love to learn from you and share!

2 thoughts on “My surgery “hacks” …10 ways to make your center life easier”

  • I love the approach of sharing ideas for continuous improvement. Your blog is great! I’ve worked in the medical field for many years and have greatly enjoyed and admired OR Nurses and staff for their “Can Do” attitude. They are a “tough bunch of customers” who demand excellence but also are very appreciative of people (vendors) who bring helpful ideas and solutions. Congrats on a successful presentation at OR Excellence and keep up the good work! Count me as a fan!

    Tom Trimble
    Xodus Medical

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