Risk management and cost reduction of cancer drugs using Lean Six Sigma tools

Andrea Chiarini (Chiarini & Associati srl, Bologna, Italy)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Publication date: 28 September 2012



This paper seeks to understand whether some Lean Six Sigma tools are useful to reduce safety and health risks to nurses and physicians who manage cancer drugs. An additional objective is to analyze economic improvements reached by the means of lean six sigma.


An improvement project inside the pharmacy department of an Italian hospital was observed and studied. The project was conducted through the define‐measure‐analyze‐improve‐control (DMAIC) pattern typical of Lean Six Sigma.


The FMEA risk analysis shows an improved situation concerning health and safety for nurses and physicians. Furthermore, the centralization and the use of other tools such as value stream mapping (VSM) have led to an interesting saving due to the reduction of immobilized capital inside the stockrooms of the departments. Other unexpected improvements in terms of motion and transportation reduction have occurred.

Research limitations/implications

It is difficult to generalize the developed theory from one case study to other public health care organizations. Academics and practitioners could investigate the subject in more detail by the means of other case studies or a quantitative inquiry.

Practical implications

The paper suggests an interesting and practical way to reduce risks for health and safety and costs inside pharmacy departments.


Lean Six Sigma and its tools have been used for the first time for reducing health and safety risks due to cancer drugs.



Chiarini, A. (2012), "Risk management and cost reduction of cancer drugs using Lean Six Sigma tools", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 318-330. https://doi.org/10.1108/17511871211268982

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