Clinical CareFeatured

When supplies might run out, teamwork steps in

The new product rapid action team works across the system to find product substitutions.


From: Materials Management
To: Nursing
We need your help in locating approving a sub for the delayed MX491 Cap port male/female. The item is used housewide and, although small, has been reported as extremely urgent by clinicians at ATRMC. They are lowest on stock levels.

From: Clinical leader
To: Materials Management
It has been brought to my attention twice in the past two days that we are out of ranger tubing. This poses serious concerns from our team when it comes to rewarming and fluid resuscitation of our patients. Are there supply chain issues keeping our stock low? Do we have an ETA on when supply will be available?

Product supply chain isn’t something most clinicians think about regularly; we just assume we will have products and supplies that are safe and meet clinical needs. The health care supply chain is an extensive network of systems, components and processes that ensure supplies and medicine is manufactured, distributed and provided to organizations and patients.

Product supply shortages become very apparent when urgent, emergent or commonly used supplies are on back order or not readily available.

Product supply shortages cause frustration and concern with direct care staff, disrupt workflow, generate tension among teams, create volumes of email and communication among leaders and support staff (which equals time away from other important work) and ultimately impacts patient safety and care.

While supply chain issues are not new, 2022 brought inflation and large-scale disruptions in manufacturer workforce and production, which led to longer lead times for supply acquisition, back orders, and the need for rapid product substitution due to the inability to obtain the currently stocked product.

To proactively identify and respond to shortages in back orders, Asante in January kicked off a “product rapid action team.” As team members across departments at all three campuses, we quickly realized we did not have a standard process to:

  • Identify and plan for probable shortages.
  • React to urgent or emergent product shortages or back orders.
  • Quickly engage appropriate stakeholders across the system in product replacement selection and approval.
  • Provide real-time communication and training (where appropriate) to replace products that are on back order or were discontinued.

The team facilitates collaboration between Materials Management, Professional Development, key clinical stakeholders and subject matter experts to ensure clinical staff have knowledge of changes, training if needed, and a safe product substitute.

As such, key stakeholders from multiple disciplines and across the system participate in the rapid action sub team. The team started to meet regularly and developed a review procedure for product substitutions, back-order identification and clinical reviews. To date, the team has greatly streamlined the identification, communication and training processes for over 13 back orders and discontinuations.

This project not only demonstrates teamwork and service, it has also improved efficiency, communication and training related to critical patient care supply shortages.

We continue to optimize the process so direct-care clinicians have the products and tools to do their jobs despite uncontrollable shortages and back orders. If you are interested in being a part of this project’s email distribution list as a representative of your department, please email Products Sub Team.

Tags: Anne Hansen, product rapid action sub team, STAT, supplies
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