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Tossing Unused Surgical Supplies Wastes Millions Of Dollars

By California Healthline  
   September 06, 2016

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have put a price tag on that waste: almost $1,000 per procedure examined at the academic medical center.

This article first appeared September 6, 2016 on California Healthline

By Ana B. Ibarra

It's long been a problem for the nation's hospitals: A staggering number of medical supplies — from surgical gloves to sponges to medications — go unused and are discarded after surgeries.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco has put a price tag on that waste: almost $1,000 per procedure examined at the academic medical center.

The research, published in May in the Journal of Neurosurgery, examined 58 neurosurgeries performed by 14 different surgeons at UCSF Medical Center, a leading academic hospital.

Among the most unused and discarded supplies were sponges, blue towels and gloves. The most expensive item wasted, according to the study, was "surgifoam," a sponge used to stop bleeding. One such sponge can cost close to $4,000.

The researchers projected that wasted supplies could cost $2.9 million a year in UCSF's neurosurgery department alone.

California Healthline is a service of the California Health Care Foundation.


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