Emily Walker Stockert, Brendan Carvalho, Eric C. Sun

A Cost and Waste-Savings Comparison Between Single-Use and Reusable Pulse Oximetry Sensors Across US Operating Rooms

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

BACKGROUND: Operating room (OR) expenditures and waste generation are a priority, with several professional societies recommending the use of reprocessed or reusable equipment where feasible. The aim of this analysis was to compare single-use pulse oximetry sensor stickers (“single-use stickers”) versus reusable pulse oximetry sensor clips (“reusable clips”) in terms of annual cost savings and waste generation across all ORs nationally. METHODS: This study did not involve patient data or research on human subjects. As such, it did not meet the requirements for institutional review board approval. An economic model was used to compare the relative costs and waste generation from using single-use stickers versus reusable clips. This model took into account: (1) the relative prices of single-use stickers and reusable clips, (2) the number of surgeries and ORs nationwide, (3) the workload burden of cleaning the reusable clips, and (4) the costs of capital for single-use stickers and reusable clips. In addition, we also estimated differences in waste production based on the raw weight plus unit packaging of single-use stickers and reusable clips that would be disposed of over the course of the year, without any recycling interventions. Estimated savings were rounded to the nearest $0.1 million. RESULTS: The national net annual savings of transitioning from single-use stickers to reusable clips in all ORs ranged from $510.5 million (conservative state) to $519.3 million (favorable state). Variability in savings estimates is driven by scenario planning for replacement rate of reusable clips, workload burden of cleaning (ranging from an additional expense of $618k versus a cost savings of $309k), and cost of capital—interest gained on investment of capital that is freed up by the monetary savings of a transition to reusable clips contributes between $541k (low-interest rates of 2.85%) and $1.3 million (high-interest rates of 7.08%). The annual waste that could be diverted from landfill by transitioning to reusable clips was found to be between 587 tons (conservative state) up to 589 tons (favorable state). If institutions need to purchase new vendor monitors or cables to make the transition, that may increase the 1-time capital disbursement. CONCLUSIONS: Using reusable clips versus single-use stickers across all ORs nationally would result in appreciable annual cost savings and waste generation reduction impact. As both single-use stickers and reusable clips are equally accurate and reliable, this cost and waste savings could be instituted without a compromise in clinical care.

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