Medical consumables are necessary supplies for health systems to provide care within a hospital or surgical environment. Consumables include gloves, gowns, masks, syringes, needles, sutures, staples, IV tubing, catheters, and adhesives for wound dressing, in addition to other tools needed by doctors and nurses to provide care. During a sustained patient surge in infectious disease, hospitals will need a strategy to manage their medical consumables, and having adequate resources will require adjustments along the hospital supply chain. China and Italy have experienced high utilization of medical consumables, disruption of the supply chain, and intermittent breakdown in the ability to deliver care. In anticipation of a surge in COVID-19 patients, hospitals should engage in early discussions regarding the use of consumables, and the following strategy could be considered:
Engage Central Supply early. Central Supply must work with providers to identify consumable shortages and must define emergency plans for requesting medical supplies during disruptions to the supply chain. Phase 1 could include the following steps:
2. Response Phase
Hospitals will need to be able to provide an optimal level of care for as long as it can based on planning during Phase 1. This requires forecasting needs (e.g., using epidemiological data) and altering supply chain practices as needed to support a surge in demand. Rationing, substitution, adaptation and reallocation may be required if the Phase 1 effort was not sufficient in terms of stockpiling and finding alternative suppliers.
3. Follow-up and Recovery Phase
In the recovery phase, providers can return to normal operations, including normal supply chain strategies. This phase will require dissemination of supply chain disruption situation reports to relevant stakeholders; coordination with distributors and others on product substitutions and transitions (e.g., going back to a primary product if the coronavirus event caused a shortage); and working with distributors to resume normal operations, distribution volumes and schedules.