Hospital Inpatient Waste Identification Tool

How to cite this paper:

Resar RK, Griffin FA, Kabcenell A, Bones C. Hospital Inpatient Waste Identification Tool. IHI Innovation Series white paper. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Institute for Healthcare Improvement; 2011. (Available on


The Hospital Inpatient Waste Identification Tool provides a systematic method for hospital frontline clinical staff, members of the financial team, and leaders to identify clinical and operational waste and subsequently prioritize and implement waste reduction initiatives that will result in cost savings for the organization.

The tool consists of five modules — Ward Module, Patient Care Module, Diagnosis Module, Treatment Module, and Patient Module — that qualitatively identify opportunities for waste reduction. Each module includes clearly articulated waste types, worksheets, and instructions.

The Hospital Inpatient Waste Identification Tool is designed to provide a snapshot of potential areas of waste within a hospital, as identified by frontline clinical staff. Once this snapshot is obtained, representatives of the hospital’s frontline clinical staff, finance department, and leadership engage in a process of enriched review and analysis of the findings to prioritize and implement waste reduction initiatives.

Hospitals can use the Waste Identification Tool as one key strategy in an ongoing process of identifying, assessing the impact of, and reducing waste by engaging both frontline staff and leadership. The tool may be adapted by individual organizations to maximize its effectiveness within their clinical environment, or to apply the tool to non-acute care settings.

This white paper describes the Hospital Inpatient Waste Identification Tool, instructs users in how to make best use of it, provides worksheets and instructions, and offers methods for using Waste Identification Tool findings in a structured and systematic process of prioritizing and implementing waste reduction projects in the inpatient hospital setting. Guidance for customizing the tool is included in the paper.

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