New app makes surgery set-ups a breeze

By Kristy Platt
Tuesday, 17 October, 2017

New app makes surgery set-ups a breeze

Hospital executives and nursing unit managers are constantly seeking to improve surgical efficiency and reduce costs in operating theatres; however, inefficiencies in the surgical set-up process have been overlooked — until now.

Mid-surgery, nurse Beth Wozniak was repeatedly astounded to find herself rushing out of the operating theatre to gather equipment that should have been there already. Equipment was missing in action, set-up was frequently incorrect; it just wasn’t good enough.

“These errors can cost hospitals thousands in wasted theatre time and unnecessary disposal of unused sterile equipment, as well as adding risk to patient safety,” said Wozniak. There had to be a better way. Certain she could improve on the old preference card system, the NSW-based nurse set about finding a solution.

Collaborating with a software designer and technical expert, the team produced the award-winning Scrubit app. Scrubit enables correct surgical set-up, reducing cost, waste and disposal of unnecessary surgical tools, while also minimising the need for nursing staff to leave the theatre to retrieve missing items. Overall, this translates to less operating theatre traffic, more efficient surgeries and improved outcomes for patients.

Streamlining the preference card system

Preference cards must be reviewed frequently and updated at least monthly, or as soon as an alteration is requested. Unfortunately, nurses rely on handwritten notes or their own memory to update preference cards, which often leads to incorrect updates. Scrubit electronically manages this process so nurses can instantly update preference cards.

Improving outdated surgical set-up procedures

To complete a surgical set-up, nursing staff must print a list of required items and take a trolley to storerooms throughout the operating theatre complex. The list can be riddled with errors, including missing information such as the correct name, reference number or location, resulting in staff spending excessive time completing this task. For younger staff, it is the added stress of not knowing the product and the manual reporting including out-of-stock equipment and repeating this process for every surgery throughout the day.

Registered nurse Michelle James explained: “Many hospitals allocate their most experienced nurses to complete set-ups as they can often do a couple at a time, which is faster than the newer employees. However, that takes them away from doing other important tasks — leaving the newer nurses to handle the bulk load of the other duties.”

Scrubit manages the theatre set-up process by placing a surgeon’s preference cards, set-ups, required equipment and item details, including the item location and a photo, in the hands of every staff member.

Users can perform numerous set-ups at a time, efficiently moving through the storage locations in a systematic manner.

Nurses electronically mark instruments as ‘collected’, ‘out of stock’ or ‘not ready’. Items that are marked as out of stock are instantly reported to procurement and more expensive or less used items can have just-in-time purchasing, reducing excess inventory and storage requirements. It is estimated that Scrubit improvements can save approximately $160,000 per theatre per annum, not taking into account improved turnaround times or increase in patient throughput.

For more information on Scrubit, visit

Beth Wozniak. Image ©Matilda Ferguson.

The Scrubit app in action. Image ©Matilda Ferguson.

Beth Wozniak accepting the 2017 Healthe Care Australia HESTA innovation award from Cheryl Macnaught, HESTA Client Relations General Manager. Image credit ©HESTA.

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