Cost-Saving Tip

Save $11,000 a month in supply costs

How would you feel if your ED’s budget for supplies was $8,000 a month in the red? That is the problem that Kelly Telesz, RN, ED manager at St. John NorthEast Community Hospital in Detroit, was facing. The primary problem was that several employees had the capability of ordering supplies, she says. This normally was done through the computer at work after a manual inventory was completed, but the staff discovered that they were able to do it from home via computer, Telesz explains. "This led to an unbelievable amount of products being ordered for convenience, because they were doing this as individuals without a coordinated effort," she says.

The ordering did not require someone physically doing a count of what was needed, so supplies were being ordered in excess, she says. "No one was paying attention to what was laying around and not being used," says Telesz. "Unit measures were ordered because that’s the way its always been done.’"

The supply ordering is now done only by her or the ED’s assistant clinical manager, Telesz says. "We are the only ones who are able to order supplies and keep a close eye on what is going where." In addition, costly supplies were moved from the storage room to an automated shelving unit that dispenses equipment only after staff punch in their identification numbers, she explains. "This then automatically triggers the par levels for automatic restocking of items that get low," Telesz says.

Previously, items such as bandages were stored in the automated dispensing unit. "These are not high-priced items and often needed quickly, so we went back to storing these at our bedside," she says. This freed up room in the unit for high-ticketed items such as wrist splints and knee immobilizers, says Telesz. "We found that often orthopedic equipment and central lines were missing from our storage room," she adds.

These items were being borrowed without approval for use throughout the hospital because it was easy to access supplies from the ED, especially during off-shifts, she explains. "There was no tracking of these items," says Telesz. "And because supplies were being ordered in excess, the ED always had more than a steady supply of what was actually needed."

As a result of these simple yet effective changes, the ED’s monthly supply costs are now under budget by $2,500 to $3,000 a month, Telesz reports. "This leaves me an overall savings of $11,000 a month," she says.

[Editor’s note: For more information, contact Kelly Telesz, RN, Emergency Department Manager, St. John NorthEast Community Hospital, Emergency Department, 4777 E. Outer Drive, Detroit, MI 48205. Telephone: (313) 369-5689. E-mail: If you have a cost-saving tip to share with ED Nursing readers, please send it to Staci Kusterbeck, 280 Nassau Road, Huntington, NY 11743. Telephone: (631) 425-9760. Fax: (631) 271-1603. E-mail:]