Staying Connected:
How Facilities Can Prepare for Small-Bore Changes

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are gearing up for newly designed small-bore connectors to help eliminate tubing misconnections, a significant patient safety hazard.

The issue promises to be a hot topic for both healthcare technology in general and AAMI in the coming months. AAMI has taken a leading role in developing a series of design standards for specific connectors.

Mike Schiller, the director of supply chain for the Association for Healthcare Resource & Materials Management, said healthcare delivery organizations need to keep the date Jan. 1, 2016, in mind. At that time, facilities in California will be prohibited from using an epidural, intravenous, or enteral feeding connector that fits into a connection port other than the type for which it was intended.

Although this is a California-specific law, healthcare delivery organizations across the country will be affected. A standard dealing with enteral applications is expected by the end of the year, with more applications planned next year. These changes will have a huge impact on manufacturers, but will affect supply chain management professionals as well. 

“My perception is that there is not a lot of information out there that supply chain professionals are aware of” with respect to small-bore connectors, Schiller said. He added that AAMI is working with the Global Enteral Device Supplier Association to get the word to supply chain professionals. “My understanding is that one of the focuses has been on the clinical side, but we do need to engage the supply chain professionals.”

These professionals will have work with clinicians, nursing leadership, and distributors to make sure the conversion to unique connectors runs smoothly. “It’s not just a simple conversion; there’s a lot of education, a lot of coordinating, and a lot of project management that will need to occur,” Schiller said. In addition, they will have to get a handle on the inventory of standard universal connectors. “There are going to be a couple of different steps, so we really want to get the word out so that next year, facilities will be able to go through their inventories and assess.”

“If you have a primary distributor from whom you’re getting the connectors, you will need to work with them on the timing for when the new connectors will be available,” Schiller said.

Healthcare technology management professionals also have a role to play, as they will work with some of the equipment used with the connectors.

While healthcare delivery organizations have witnessed product conversions in which they have had to replace an entire inventory of products, the small-bore connector change is different, Schiller said. “This is more of a mandate at a state level, whereas other wholesale conversions occur because facilities are converting from one product manufacturer to another, for example.”

AAMI has a number of free resources on its small-bore hot topics page, including an FAQ document that answers such questions as what healthcare providers can do to ensure their facilities are prepared for the change. In addition, the Premier Safety Institute is hosting a webinar titled “New standards for medical tubing connectors: Are you ready?” on Aug. 20. 

Posted: 8.06.14