Operating Room Sustainability is Critical to Healthcare Business

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Healthcare comprises nearly 16 percent of the American economy. Hospitals operate round the clock, making a substantial environmental footprint. According to the EPA data, hospitals generate about 7,000 tons per day of waste, including infectious waste and hazardous waste. Mercury is used in medical devices and equipment, and several other hospital materials may have toxic effects. Hospitals also consume large amounts of energy and water.

Hospital sustainability programs can not only support the environment, but also reduce costs and improve the quality of patient care. Particularly, the Operating Room (OR) deserves maximum attention on the sustainability front. The OR is often the largest generator of revenue for a hospital, and it is also the largest generator of waste. According to Mayo Clinic’s Dr. John Abenstein, sustainability in the OR is the key to staying in business.

Dr. Abenstein, who is also the president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, says that sustainability in the OR provides a good opportunity to cut costs through more efficient resource utilization and reduction in waste. Dr. Kate Huncke, vice chair of the department of anesthesia at NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City, says that the waste generated from the OR is way out of proportion to the footprint it occupies within the hospital.

Dr. Lauren Berkow, associate chief of the division of neuroanesthesia at Johns Hopkins Health System, Baltimore, says educating physicians on the financial and environmental impacts of OR sustainability can make an important difference. Johns Hopkins saved more than $5 million on an OR reprocessing program between 2010 and 2013.

Dr. Susan Ryan, clinical professor of anesthesiology at UCSF Medical Center, San Francisco, says that sustainability in the OR involves changing habits in an exacting culture where the surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses are highly cautious. Bob Matthews, assistant vice president of materiels management and support services, Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, says that engaging physicians early is important. The overall value proposition must be assessed when it comes to making decisions on supplies.

Sustainability in the OR is a multipronged initiative that can include, but is not limited to, recycling and reprocessing equipment; reducing prescription drug waste; properly disposing of medical waste; and choosing and managing anesthetics in a sustainable way.

Source: Hospital & Health Networks

Image Credit: Flickr via Army Medicine