While Surgical Products was at the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) annual meeting, we learned about all the new gadgets and tools, but one that made us look twice was the pre-op kit.
When patients leave their last appointment before surgery, they can be given a facility-branded kit that includes standard pre-operative washes, application directions and more information materials. We’ve known for years that an educated patient is key to pre-operative wash compliance, so when Medline showed us the concept, we could not help but think – well, that makes sense. The RNs around us certainly agreed.
Sue MacInnes, chief market solutions officer at Medline, shared some background.
What sparked the idea of the pre-op kits and how does this improve patient education?
MacInnes: SSIs occur in 160,000 to 300,000 patients per year. Additionally, a Gallup survey found that pre-surgery education is lacking. Only 37 percent of respondents were satisfied with key aspects of patient education. Knowing all this, we started thinking about how we could standardize the pre-surgery experience for patients and how we can provide guidance while enhancing patient outcomes. This led to Medline creating a pre-surgical patient engagement kit to help prepare and educate them. Inside, it includes important information about SSIs, signs and symptoms of infection, a checklist with easy-to-follow instructions on how to prepare for surgery, as well as helpful patient bathing products. Additionally, Medline offers hospitals the opportunity to brand the kits as their own.
What’s the biggest challenge in regards to maintaining a full stock of these kits?
MacInnes: It isn’t a problem of getting stock or even maintaining it. The bigger challenge is understanding the volumes. Because the kit is new, systems need to understand which surgical cases would qualify for needing these types of kits. We’ve found that surgical staff appreciates having a system that supports their needs and makes it easier for patients. A compliant patient yields better outcomes, so convincing staff to follow protocol is not an issue. However, until the hospital system fully grasps the eligible cases, there will be some trial and error. This is normal for introducing any new product.
What methods are currently being used and what are the down falls?
MacInnes: The following are a few examples of patient education methods:
- Providing computer generated instructions that may offer no verbal guidance or information on why the patient is doing certain tasks.
- Printed marketing materials that are sometimes too focused on logos that market the healthcare system rather than considering the patient’s needs.
How does the challenge of consistent patient education and understanding play into pre-op procedure compliance?
MacInnes: Sometimes we forget that a healthcare professional’s way of communicating – our words or acronyms – can be confusing to patients. Patients about to undergo surgery are generally under tremendous stress and get wrapped up in the scary process of having to be operated on. Will it hurt? How long will recovery take? Am I a burden to my family if I ask for help? Healthcare professionals must help remove the stress, answer any questions and be an overall support system for the patients.
In many healthcare institutions, a patient is provided with instructions on how to prepare for surgery. However, the education is often not standardized and the instructions are too clinical to understand, leading to patient disconnect and decrease in compliance.