Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is This Really Necessary?

Somebody had the bright idea to do this at our hospital. These shiny new timers were recently installed on our anesthesia machines. As you can see by the label, the sole purpose of the timers is to remind the anesthesiologist when it is time to give a patient another dose of antibiotics.

Why did our department do this? I think it is because there is some Joint Commission rule about a patient getting a second dose of antibiotics a few hours after the initial pre-incision dose. This is all in the name of preventing surgical wound infection. If a subsequent dose of antibiotics is not documented, this will result in a TJC red flag.

While the idea may be noble, to me its implementation seems to be a waste of precious hospital dollars. First of all, the timing of a second dose is usually at least four hours after the first dose is given. Very few of our operations go that long. So right there, the necessity of getting these stop timers is questionable. Then, there is the arguable need to buy a shiny and expensive looking electronic timer when there are far cheaper alternatives readily available. Almost everybody has a cellphone with a built in timer that can be used for the same purpose. In residency, we used to write the times that an antibiotic needed to be redosed on a strip of tape that we would attach on the anesthesia machine. Then of course there is the old mental trick of actually remembering to give the antibiotic on time without any external reminders. Aren't the alternatives easier, and cheaper, than buying these fancy chronographs?

1 comment:

  1. At my hospital, we use an EMR program that will display a pop-up when it is time to re-dose. Installing timers is totally asinine. I love our EMR and can't imagine going back to paper.