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IRVING, Texas -- Since April 2002, hospitals that are
members of VHA Inc., the healthcare cooperative, have saved an estimated
$25 million through agreements VHA signed with two medical device reprocessing
companies. More than 450 VHA member organizations are participating in the
contracts with Alliance Medical Corporation of Phoenix, and Vanguard Medical
Concepts Inc. of Lakeland, Fla. The savings compare with the cost of purchasing
Single-use medical device reprocessing includes all the steps performed to
make a single-use device patient-ready, including cleaning, function testing,
sterilization and re-packaging. A 2002 Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
survey reported that 45 percent of hospitals with more than 250 beds reprocess
medical devices, with 84 percent of those hospitals using third-party
reprocessing companies. VHA's research has shown that reprocessing saves on
average at least 50 percent over the cost of purchasing a replacement device.
Rather than attempt to do their own reprocessing, many hospitals have
contracted with third-party reprocessing firms, since it is expensive and
difficult for the average hospital to comply with the FDA standards for
"Participation in VHA's third-party reprocessing agreements has provided
our members with outstanding quality and value over the past two years," said
K. Jeffrey Hayes, VHA's senior vice president for clinical and business
By using Alliance and Vanguard services, VHA members can ensure that
reprocessed devices comply with FDA regulatory requirements. The companies
guarantee that used medical devices will be returned fully functional and
sterile. Both companies have validated the effectiveness of their
reprocessing procedures over the past decade. Devices are thoroughly tested
and examined before being released. Both firms back up their services with
Participation in the agreements has helped VHA members maximize limited
resources and has resulted in significant supply-cost reductions while
maintaining a high quality of patient care, according to Hayes. He said the
estimated $25 million savings already achieved should grow significantly as
member organizations fully leverage reprocessing opportunities through the
VHA member and Vanguard customer Sentara Healthcare, a 1,584-bed system
with six hospitals in and around Norfolk, Va., has saved $505,000 since July
2002 through reprocessing. Sentara Standardization/Utilization Manager Jean
Potter noted that reprocessing is increasingly gaining acceptance by the
system's physicians and nurses and that the savings will increase as more
clinicians support the idea.
Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., a 170-bed hospital, saved $90,000 in
12 months by working with Alliance. Director of materials management Rich
Doolan expects 2003 cost savings to exceed $120,000.
"Reprocessing is a
viable cost-cutting initiative," said Doolan.
Source: VHA Inc.