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In today’s climate of no reimbursement for supplies, there are certainly incentives enough to take them back. But what are the consequences? Here’s snapshot look at what some agencies are doing and why you may or may not want to follow their lead.
• Do unto others
Some agencies are taking back those unopened supplies and offering them to patients who are of low or moderate financial means. Sounds like a good idea? Your agency isn’t out the full cost of the supplies, and your low-income patients have received quality products and saved money at the same time. Problem: Even unopened sterile packaging can act as a vector for contaminants. If you want to follow this plan, consider sponging plastic wrapped items with a disinfectant solution, but be wary of passing on supplies in other types of packaging.
• Give them away
Just because you can’t use them doesn’t mean no one else can. Some agencies have found that while they cannot accept returned supplies, nothing stops them from encouraging their clients to donate them. Sounds like a good idea? Homeless shelters, centers for abused women and their children, and other organizations are always looking for free supplies. Problem: See above. Before donating supplies, make sure that recipients understand the facts and any risks associated with them. Sometimes it’s good to look a gift horse in the mouth.
• Ration them out
If you don’t take a large stash of supplies to a patient’s house, you’re less likely to find yourself in the position of having a lot left over. Follow the Boy Scouts’ motto and be prepared, but also be prepared to use what you brought. Sounds like a good idea? It is. Keeping careful tabs on what supplies are needed and brought into the home is the best way to make sure that everyone wins.