Cost-Saving Tip

Ask nurses to save $2 per day in your ED

When ED nurses at Martin Memorial Medical Center in Stuart, FL, were challenged to come up with ways to save just $2 per day, results were dramatic, reports Patricia Scott, RN, BSN, CEN, ED nurse leader.

"Over the course of a year, we saved over $2,000," she says.

Scott passed along a list of common supplies and what they cost, and nurses submitted ideas via e-mail or verbally. "I encouraged them to think of whatever they could to help out," she says. "We streamlined where we kept supplies, reduced duplications, cut down stock to what we really needed, and eliminated waste by not leaving things out to get dirty and contaminated."

Winning ideas

Here are some of the cost-saving ideas submitted by nurses:

  • The ED switched to prefilled syringe solutions, which cost $46.74 for a case of 120. "This is one of the biggest changes we made," Scott reports. The prefilled syringe solutions are a lot less expensive and save labor, she says.

"We do not have to store, manipulate, or dispose of needles used to draw up the saline," she says. "At an average time of one minute per draw of saline, that is two hours extra nursing time for each case of syringes."

About 15 cases are used per month, which frees up 30 hours of nursing time for patient care, says Scott. "The staff is very appreciative of any timesaving or labor-saving devices brought to the clinical area."

  • A charge nurse developed a new system for stocking, by switching to cabinets in each area instead of supplies kept in treatment rooms. The cabinets are located conveniently to the user, with limited stock in the critical care rooms. Bins were installed on walls to hold electrodes, nonsterile gauze, hemoccult cards, alcohol pads, and lubricant packages.

"This kept the smaller supplies limited and clean," says Scott. "Hoarding was not allowed, and just-in-time use out of the centrally located supply area was encouraged."

  • Inventory was reduced on some seldom-used items, such as certain sizes of needles, and nurses decided that an intravenous (IV) tray needed only eight 20-gauge angiocaths instead of 25.

"Before, the trays were stuffed full," Scott recalls. It is very easy to walk through the medication room and replace items if needed during the shift, she says. "We pay $1.52 per angiocath," says Scott. "Cutting out half the IV trays and half the stock saved over $250 each month."

  • It was determined that nonsterile gauze worked as well for some procedures as sterile gauze.

"We looked at how we were using the gauze," says Scott. "For example, if we were using the gauze like a washcloth, as nasal drip pads, or for padding bony prominences, instead of ripping open a sterile box, we used nonsterile."

Sterile gauze costs 33 cents for 10 gauze, compared with 95 cents for 200 nonsterile gauze, she explains.

  • Some supplies were standardized to reduce inventory.

"We realized that we didn’t need five kinds of tape," says Scott. They reduced the stock to paper tape, plastic tape, and limited Coban. "We axed foam tape, ¼-inch tape, and 6-inch tape," Scott says. We keep 1-inch and 4-inch rolls of silk-like tape only."


For more information, contact:

  • Patricia Scott, RN, BSN, CEN, Emergency Department, Martin Memorial Medical Center, 300 Hospital Ave., Stuart, FL 34994. E-mail: