How to Save Money When Purchasing Surgical Instruments

Buying surgical instruments and tools doesn't have to be a costly or stressful process. Here's a comprehensive list of the main things to keep in mind.


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    Maintain accurate expectations of instrument utilization. If you hear of new surgeons or new procedures coming to your facility, ensure you will be getting a strong return on your investment before filling an instrument “wish list.”
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    Selectively invest in quality. Certain instruments, such as Needle Holders and Scissors, are more likely to breed surgeon discontent than others if quality or maintenance is sub par. Purchase the highest grade of these and similar instruments, and your surgeon and staff satisfaction will rise.
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    Old habits die hard with surgeons, and they’ll often ask for a specific instrument solely by brand name. It’s important to determine if the requested item must come from a specific vendor. If the vendor name or part number was for reference only, then you have an opportunity to compare cost:
    • Most of the surgical instrument suppliers in the United States do not manufacture the instruments they sell, outsourcing to a number of companies. This results in an identical instrument being multi-branded and sold at various price-points, creating an opportunity to save on purchases if you compare costs between different companies. Your surgical instrument source should have relationships with many manufacturers to ensure you get the quality your operation requires in its instruments.
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    Do some intelligent cost-cutting. Cutting cost on the purchase of Handheld Retractors, Sponge Forceps, Towel Clips, Dressing, Tissue Forceps and Basic Hemostats will not directly affect surgeon satisfaction. Identify target areas to help your center’s bottom line.
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    Streamline your purchasing. By focusing only on the instruments you need, you’ll save thousands of dollars. Sets are often designed by instrument companies and include unnecessary parts. For example, when buying a Bookwalter-type ring, target only the necessary components and avoid complete sets.


  • Companies “discontinue” items each year as a cost-cutting measure. These items are still available via special order, but at a significant premium. Research other vendors, as they may work with the same instrument manufacturer, offering a duplicate item without the premium.
  • Instrument returns is often a process that does not receive adequate attention or follow-up. Process and track returned items directly through the vendor rather than your sales rep. Follow up on return credits that have not been posted to your account within 15 days.
  • Building smart trays from the start helps avoid the need to flash-sterilize instruments. By keeping the selection and quantity to a minimum, you can use the base tray as a test to determine what needs to be added and what can be removed. Maintain instrument stock at a volume that anticipates unusually busy days.
  • Create and maintain a detailed list of instruments in an electronic format such as Excel. Include a complete instrument inventory, including specifics such as tray details and peel pack items.


  • With highly specialized instruments and sets comes significant handling responsibility. To ensure proper use and maintenance, only highly qualified personnel who need to handle these instruments should do so.

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