Jun 30, 2022 | Article

Planning Ahead: Instrument marking and creating a plan to commission them into your system

  1. Understand the benefits of marking surgical instrumentation.
  2. Identify the importance of commissioning marked surgical instruments into a surgical asset management system.
  3. Learn the techniques to mark surgical instruments.

Instrument marking is just one of the creative ways that we can track surgical instruments through their entire lifecycle inside a facility. Surgical instruments start in sterile processing and travel through several processes to become sterile instruments ready for use in an operating room. These processes include decontamination, mechanical washing, assembly, sterilization, storage, and point of use or case tracking. By marking your surgical instruments and commissioning them into a surgical asset management system like CensiTrac you gain visibility to the entire perioperative loop through which surgical instruments travel.

What is an Instrument Mark?

An instrument mark is defined as a unique identifier placed on a surgical instrument that provides complete visibility in the form of a data matrix. The mark can be placed on a surgical instrument via laser, electrochemical or other marking methods. Each mark has its own unique identifiers and is commissioned to a specific surgical instrument within a surgical asset management system. Once an instrument is marked there are several benefits that become immediately available such as specific maintenance requirements, utilization records, detailed instrument history, and integrity testing.

Commissioning Instruments for Enhanced Tracking

Commissioning instruments into your surgical asset management system, such as CensiTrac, is one of the most important parts of utilizing an instrument mark. Instrument marks should be commissioned as a specific product into your database. A specific product uses a manufacturer, catalog number, and sterilization method to identify a product or surgical instrument. Once the product is identified, the user places the mark in the inventory. After an instrument mark is placed on a surgical instrument it is commissioned to its corresponding instrument manufacturer information.

Marking Instruments: How to Get Started

There are two different options for marking your instrument inventory: utilizing a marking team or using your own SPD staff. The first option is to have a marking team come on-site at your facility and mark a set number of instruments. The team works with you to define a target number or instruments to be marked and commissioned into your database. After the marking event is complete the instrument marks are then uploaded into your database giving the user the ability to utilize the instrument mark right away. This is great for a facility looking to mark its instruments at an accelerated speed. Using a marking team relieves a huge amount of work on the SPD staff and allows for the marking process to be completed quickly and efficiently.

However, some facilities do not have the luxury of using a marking team and must mark and commission instruments into their system using available SPD staff. SPD staff are trained to mark during the implementation of your marking solution, like CensiMark, and can utilize educational videos on how to mark and commission those instruments into your database. Facilities that choose to mark and commission their own instruments should do so by prioritizing the instrument needs at the facility. Som facilities may not have as much instrumentation or choose to track only high-dollar instruments.

The best way to prioritize your instrument marking is based on your facility’s needs. For example, if a facility is losing high-dollar surgical instruments, clinic instruments or hospital floor instruments; they can begin this process by having these items marked first. This could be done by a marking team or by trained SPD staff members. These instruments are great items to start the marking process.

Using instrument marks can fulfill the needs of your SPD by tracking those high-dollar, clinic, or one-of-a-kind instruments to provide complete visibility through their entire lifecycle, prevent loss and ensure they are ready for surgery.


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