So now, 'Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital' in camden is using new technology to keep track of it.
'RadarFind' is like a G-P-S system - it uses tags on every item, and readers that track the tags.
To locate something, a nurse can go to any computer, and check a map.
Icons show where it is, and how many pieces there are. Each icon is also color-coded to show whether it's available, in use, or needs cleaning.
Before RadarFind, finding equipment depended a lot on memory.
Michele Wargo, the director of Nursing Systems and Informatics, says, "They would look in all the alcoves, all the rooms, all the utility rooms. To try to detect the last time that piece of equipment was seen."
And there was a lot of frustration.
"It would have an assigned location," she says. "Once it was moved from that assigned location, you didn't ever know who borrowed it from you, so you could retrieve it back."
Hospital officials says it saves nurses about half an hour a day, giving them more time with patients. And nurses are much less frustrated when it comes to looking for gear.
It also cuts the need for duplicate equipment, so the hospital saves money on purchasing and rental.
Wargo says RadarFind has been a godsend in the main lobby and emergency departments, where wheelchairs constantly come and go. Those areas can have too many wheelchairs, or none at all.
A version of RadarFind is also in the works to keep track of patients as they move through the hospital. That would help nursing staff know when patients are in testing or surgery. And it would give family & friends peace of mind - they wouldn't arrive to an empty patient room, not knowing where their loved ones were in the hospital.
The manufacturer of RadarFind says its technology is in hospitals in Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas, but nowhere else in the Delaware or Lehigh Valleys.