Hospital Group Says ORs Need a Heavy Dose of Green

Hospital Group Says ORs Need a Heavy Dose of Green

With a membership of more than 1,000 healthcare institutions, industry group Practice Greenhealth is taking aim at one of the bigger waste-generating centers in hospitals: operating rooms.

The industry group detailed plans today for its "Greening the OR Initiative" -- a year-long collaborative project to develop best practices for incorporating sustainability principles in hospital operating rooms. Practice Greenhealth made its announcement during the opening day of the CleanMed conference, which runs through Friday in Baltimore.

Practice Greenhealth called on stakeholders within the healthcare industry and those that supply and support it to join the effort to devise a "viable strategy to green the nation's operating rooms," Bob Jarboe, Practice Greenhealth's executive vice president of business development, said in a video presentation.
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That prescription will help generate cost-savings and enhance the safety of the patients and people who work in the facility, he said.

The initiative comes as the healthcare industry faces increasing scrutiny for a number of its practices and is stepping up its response in the arena where concerns about mounting costs, safety and environmental conditions for patients and workers, and the efficient use of energy and other resources meet.

Operating rooms are "some of the most resource-intensive and waste generating places in a hospital," said Jarboe. "They generate between 20 and 30 percent of a facility’s waste. Much of that waste is disposed of as regulated medical waste, which costs 10 to 15 times more in disposal fees than regular waste.

"Half of the budgets for operating rooms are generally spent on supplies that are thrown out, being used once or not at all during procedures, even though re-use may be an option."

He said the shortlist of "green interventions" for operating rooms include:

  • Single-Use Device (SUD) Reprocessing
  • Switching to reusable rather than disposable gowns, surgical drapes, basins and other reusables supplies and equipment
  • OR kit formulation
  • Waste anesthetic gas scavenging systems
  • Fluid waste management systems
  • Better management of energy use for lighting and thermal comfort
  • Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) minimization/segregation
  • Substitution of reusable hard cases for blue sterile wrap
  • Recycling of medical plastics
  • Laser safety and smoke evacuation
  • Green cleaning and disinfection in surgical setting
  • Donation of medical equipment and supplies

Ascent Healthcare Solutions, which develops green products and solutions for the medical device industry, HCA Inc., an operator of hospitals and healthcare facilities, and SRI Surgical, which provides hospitals help in devising efficiency and environmental solutions, are sponsors of the green operating room initiative.

Other collaborative efforts to lighten the environmental footprint of healthcare industry include the development of the "Green Guide for Health Care," a best practices guide for sustainable building design, construction and operations.

Last week, Kaiser Permanente unveiled its strategy for greening its $1 billion medical product supply chain. Kaiser is requiring suppliers to provide environmental information on products and is using a Sustainability Scorecard to weigh that data when making its purchasing decisions. Ultimately, the new practice could affect $14 billion in medical products if it is adopted, as expected, by the company's leading supplier and rolled out among other clients.

Image CC licensed by Flickr user c0d3in3