Amanda Akers

Preference Card Accuracy: The New Standard of Care

Preference cards are used to guide operating room preparation before a surgical procedure. They are a reference tool, describing each physician’s specific preferences for each procedure performed: the pick list of disposable supplies, instruments and tools, and room setup specifications. When used correctly, preference cards help ensure an efficient and safe procedure.

Preference card accuracy is quickly becoming a new standard of care in surgical nursing. While accuracy has always been viewed as relatively important, card accuracy was generally considered idealistic or aspirational. Things have changed. The technology required to ensure continuous preference card accuracy now exists.  What is more, expectations have risen as technology has improved. Physicians insist on card accuracy, nurses insist on having modern tools for maintaining card quality, supply chain professionals insist on having accurate supply data with which to make decisions, and patient advocates demand that surgical cases be properly managed.

In today’s healthcare environment, clinicians are continually asked to do more with less. This issue has plagued the healthcare arena for over a decade, but the pandemic has exacerbated the problem. As a perioperative nurse with years of experience in the operating room, I can attest that nurses are incredibly resourceful. Nurses are great at putting Band-Aids on problems and identifying “work around” solutions. At the end of the day, most nurses will move heaven and earth to ensure quality care. One thing that perioperative nurses should not be asked to forgo, however, is timely access to correct surgical supplies during a procedure.

Preference Card Management (PCM) has historically fallen to the wayside during times of elevated stress, staffing shortages, and diminished resources. While this may appear benign at first glance, the repercussions of an unmaintained preference card can be debilitating. Not only does an unmaintained preference card place unnecessary strain on already burnt-out nurses, staff, and physicians—an unmaintained preference card may cause harm to patients.

When a preference card is inaccurate, staff members are forced to scramble for missing supplies. Often they must sift through mountains of inventory, in hopes of finding a proverbial needle in the haystack, and they generally bear the brunt of physician dissatisfaction related to incorrect supply deliveries or disrupted cases. Even if the missing item is eventually found, the inaccurate preference card may have delayed a case, caused a patient to endure unnecessarily prolonged anesthesia, or forced a physician to perform a “surgical workaround” with a suboptimal set of supplies.

If preference cards are so critical to patient care, why would any hospital neglect to maintain them? The answer is that until recently there was no proven technology for ensuring preference card accuracy.

Preference cards must never be an afterthought. All surgery stakeholders, from the surgeon and the hospital to the patient on the table, are right to view preference card accuracy as a standard of care. Patients should be confident that their surgical team has the supplies necessary to deliver a smooth, safe, successful, and efficient operation. And healthcare professionals should demand that hospitals and surgery centers find PCM processes and tools that are effective, efficient, intuitive, and data-driven.

PrefTech is empowering healthcare providers and facilities to implement this new standard of care. Our industry-leading PCM platform, which is known as PrefTech OR, solves the problem of preference card maintenance. We provide healthcare facilities with intelligent, cost-effective, and easy-to-use software that gives you revolutionary power over your cards. Our platform provides continuous visibility into the quality of your cards, automatically identifies the specific steps required to optimize each of your cards, and painlessly guides you through a continuous card improvement process. Preference card accuracy can no longer be viewed as a luxury or an aspiration. Preference card accuracy is obtainable and a necessity.

I encourage you to contact the PrefTech team to learn more about how we are enabling the adoption of this standard of care. We will provide you with the PCM technology you need to improve staff and physician satisfaction, deliver hard cost savings, increase efficiency, decrease waste, and ensure that patients are afforded the surgical care that they expect and deserve. Don’t wait another minute. Call us today and let us help you provide the new standard of care, preference card accuracy.