New survey reveals how hospital supply chains affect nurses, patient safety, and margins

By Carol Davis

Nurses face significant supply chain management problems that impact patient safety, efficiency, and hospital margins, says a market report released today that includes results from a nursing survey.

The report, Nurses: The Secret Factor for Better Supply Chainsan annual market report issued by healthcare inventory provider Syft, highlights hospital supply chain challenges at the point-of-use and key areas that require improvement. The nursing survey was conducted by Sage Growth Partners, a healthcare consultancy, to understand nurses’ perspective of hospital supply chains, according to a press release.

Of 100 nurses surveyed—50 nurse leaders and 50 frontline nurses—in February, 86% said they leave procedures to hunt for supplies at least occasionally, according to the report.

Some 25% said they don’t always check product expiration or recall information, which increases risk of patient safety issues; 48% attributed this to lack of time.

Frontline nurses were more likely than nurse leaders to report frequent supply shortages, with nearly 10% more of them saying they occur often or occasionally, according to survey results.

The report also revealed a disconnect between nurse leaders and frontline nurses regarding how often nurses check product expiration and recall information prior to opening an item. While 84% of nurse leaders said their teams always check this information, only 66% of frontline nurses said they always check.

Other findings from the survey include:

Nurses encounter significant supply chain documentation problems

  • 80% of nurses said they want more supply chain automation tools
  • 95% said inaccurate physician preference cards decrease their efficiency
  • 65% said their current supply documentation system is too time consuming

Supply chain problems take a  significant toll on nurse stress and burnout

  • 86% said their supply chain documentation system causes them stress
  • 33% said hospital leadership is not working hard to reduce OR nurse stress
  • 18% said they have considered leaving their current role due to supply chain problems

Supply chain problems result in excess waste and lower margins

  • 76% of nurses said supply shortages are common, and 23% said that the greatest impact of this is reduced revenue
  • 33% lack access to waste-reduction tools such as barcode scanning
  • 12% said their OR wastes supplies in more than 25% of cases

“Hospitals are taking steps to improve their supply chains after seeing vulnerabilities exposed by COVID-19, but these findings show that they won’t be successful until they start factoring in the nurse experience,” Todd Plesko, CEO of Syft, said in a press release.

“Nurses are experiencing pervasive and troubling challenges related to efficiency, patient safety, waste, and mental health due to supply chains not recognizing their needs,” he said. “Creating a more nurse-centric supply chain is critical to every hospital’s success.”

Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand. This story first ran on HealthLeaders Media.