(Horror returns to Materials Management)


1. Moose and Squirrel - "The new CFO decided that he didn't want me reporting to the Materials Management Director anymore. After all, he reasoned, a Consultant analyzing supplies in the O.R. should be based up there and reporting to someone who has a more intimate, day-to-day knowledge of what they use and how much it costs. Sounds simple, doesn't it? In a typical consulting engagement, my plan of action (what I said I would get accomplished) would mirror what he recommended (what he wanted to pay me to do). But, the new CFO was too new to know any personalities "Up There" in the O.R..

It seems that Surgery was run by a squirrelly Manager who did everything (yes, probably THAT, too) the prima donna docs wanted. Supplies were maintained by a Bull Moose of a Materials Coordinator who thought anyone who disagreed with him was an affront to his race or his masculinity. This Bull Moose was taller than most O.R. Supply Coordinators and twice the girth of two typical scrub nurses tied together back-to-back. One day - I was free to come & go & dig around for O.R. cost saving opportunities as I felt necessary; the next day, I'm reporting to the Bull Moose. Oh yeah - this Moose detested anyone in a suit and hated Consultants even more. Stories of him driving Sales Reps away in tears were commonplace. Everybody either knew or knew of this guy through his unsavory reputation. Even though most Reps avoided dealing with his Mooseness, all wanted to rearrange his antlers.

Then, the day came when I was sighted in his cross-hairs. The Moose just didn't like me snooping around his territory - nosing around his feeding ground, as it were. We can't propose anything that he hasn't already tried twice. He's been doing this job since Christ was a kid. He's been through more Sales Reps and Consultants than Carter has pills, blah, blah, blah. Seems he felt he didn't need my help. All Consultants were no good, blah, blah -snort- blah, blah -snort-. All the while pointing his Moose paw in my direction and breathing his Moose breath an inch away from my face. I kept my nose to the grindstone and figured I'd get an extra week in Heaven for experiencing this pure Hell on earth.

I presented the results of my O.R. supply analysis to the CFO. When we fast-forward to 4 weeks later, we find that the squirrel has chosen to dig up her nuts and move to another tree. The Bull Moose is still grazing in the O.R., but in a more extinct capacity. Seems that he tried to find greener pastures, but no other O.R. Zoo wanted him. So, I guess he's stuck feeding his sumptuous ego in the same field he's grazed in for the past many, many years. Seems the Sales Rep grapevine worked overtime to spare other Hospitals the pain of hiring a rabid Moose who should have been put out to pasture a long time ago."

2. Reduced O.R. Inventory over $320,000 - "The last O.R. physical inventory identified over $1.3 million in supplies, with orthopedic prostheses tying up the majority of that inventory. Apparently, no one at this Hospital had heard of consignment & didn't think it possible to do surgery without every size of every type of implant being on-hand.

A few months went by and the Surgery Department was celebrating big-time. They had done a spot-count on the O.R.'s implants and found that the on-hand value of supplies had been reduced over $320,000. This was great news! Accolades all around! Even the President got into the act - awarding the O.R. Medical Director and Supply Coordinator many perks for their diligent work. Not everything was Kosher, though. I toured a long-neglected basement of an adjacent Hospital-owned apartment building in the hopes of locating some electric beds, furniture & exam tables to sell for scrap. There, squarely between some broken exam tables, was a rack filled with our missing orthopedic prostheses. Titanium and stainless steel was everywhere! About $320,000 worth. Incredible as it seems, the O.R. Supply Coordinator actually thought this was one way of reducing his on-hand inventory! Also, it seems that the head Orthopod didn't want to use ABC because he was getting a larger donation to his "research and education fund" from XYZ.

And you always thought that patient preferences dictated which manufacturer a Surgeon uses?"

3. To Err is Human ……. - "Then there was the time that a Consultant was looking over some of the most recently signed contracts to verify that the proper signatures were included, terms were discussed, etc.. He came across one that blew him away. Seems that the hospital signed its life away and that the items contracted for were being implemented in the coming week. The impact of this agreement was worth $800,000 over the term of the agreement (5 long years). The same results could have been obtained using a different methodology. This alternative method would have only cost the facility under $200,000, resulting in a cost-avoidance of over $600,000. Problem is - it seems that EVERYBODY reviewed these documents (M/M Director, CFO, Legal, God). None of them bothered to question the assumptions ("____ will save you a billion per year and make your patients like you"), thought enough to look past the obvious (Automated robots save big bucks - Yeah Right!) or bothered to add up the numbers provided (Front page of Hospital Gazette should have read "Simple Math Errors Uncovered; New Calculators Ordered for Everybody").

Needless to say, because:

· The Contract had already been signed, and
· There would be fried egg all over everybody's face if word of this got out, and
· Lots of jobs would be in jeopardy, and
· The train had already left the station (Select staff should have been under it!), the "finding" was buried! Forever! Not another word was said about the matter.

Now you know why aspirins cost $15.00 each when dispensed from your local Hospital!"

4. Worse Spot for a Warehouse - "It seems that when they searched and searched for a site to locate a Distribution Facility, they couldn't have picked a worse spot. It was located, as they say, 'On the bad side of the tracks'. Nothing could be closer to the truth. One side was located at the end of a cul-de-sac that provided a convenient spot to dump mattresses, household goods & other junk. After hours, this secluded location provided a quiet spot for the ladies of the evening to ply the hands of their trade. This was evidenced when we arrived at the Distribution Center on Monday morning and would judge the weekend's level of activity by the number of discarded prophylactics. Not exactly the kind of place you'd want to wander freely after hours."

5. Rain, Rain Go Away - A couple of rain-related stories:

· "Rain literally poured into the Medical Records Department, located in the basement of this one Hospital, one cloudy Spring afternoon. Came in through the open windows because the air conditioning was on the blink and the all the computer equipment in the Department made it a hot place to work. Problem is - the rain never stopped! Poured for 14 straight hours & soaked hundreds of paper medical records. Tons of wet paperwork was ultimately thrown away; many more had black mold growing between the sheets for months. It smelled moldy down there for more than 6 months."

· "Same thing happened to an X-Ray storage location at another Hospital, but this time it seeped in along the perimeter of the building. Standing water just rose and rose without Housekeeping ever noticing the wet floors. Many patients' films were destroyed!"

· "This Director of Materials Management was an arrogant cuss who took pride that he was able to relocate his small Storeroom to much larger real estate. To maximize usage of available square footage, he built a Receiving Dock above his new Storeroom. Designed everything himself. Then, a typical Southern rain opened up the clouds and poured a Spring shower all over his Receiving Dock and into his Storeroom two weeks after it opened. We're talking deluge here! Where was the Director when all this came down? Why home, of course. Why was he at home in the middle of the day? Seems that he likes to start work at 3:00 AM every day (I'll never know why), enabling him to leave the Hospital around noon. Just when the fun begins!"

6. Merry Costly Christmas, Everybody! - "As a consultant doing business all over the country, we tend to hear some things that makes our hairs curl. Of course, we've got to check out the rumors to verify whether a story is true or not. The more outlandish the story, the quicker we want to check it out. We only half-hope the story fails to pan out, because if it's true - we'd have to embarrass Hospital Administration by bringing it to their attention. Contrary to what you might think - Consultants do sometimes have a heart. Sometimes. Maybe just a little one.

Such was the case with this one Hospital I was at. I had heard that the Prime Distributor's Sales Rep was hitting up peers for free samples of products to be brought before the Value Analysis Committee. Nothing's wrong with that, right? This Rep was taking the sample stock into their inventory and selling it back to the Hospital as routine stock supplies. Yup - set up inventory numbers for these products in the Hospital's MMIS and did everything needed to get this stuff onto the Storeroom's shelves. Seems the freebies never made it to the Value Analysis Committee. This Prime Distributor's Rep was "banking" the proceeds of these free sales to offset the cost of the annual Christmas Party. Materials Management, after all, "expected" this Prime Distributor to put on a Christmas Party for them and it had better be a good one. Huh? Hey wait a minute! Isn't that called fraud & abuse? Maybe look under money laundering in the dictionary! And, oh yeah, isn't it illegal in 50 states?"

Can you relate to any of the Horror Stories presented above?

Have any Horror Stories of your own to tell? Send them to us to be included in future Horror Stories columns.

We could use a good laugh now & then:
To see other segments of HORROR STORIES, Click below:

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

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