Going green could cut hospital costs

Despite assumptions to the contrary, reducing your operating rooms' carbon footprint doesn't have to cost your facility more. In an article in the February issue of the Archives of Surgery, a Johns Hopkins team contends that going greener could help hospitals reduce waste and costs.

Nearly 70 percent of hospital waste is generated by operating rooms and labor-and-delivery suites. At least some of the waste relates to choices made. That's why overhead lights in operating rooms often wolf down energy, instead of sipping it. Sterilized equipment gets opened, but never used. And those red medical waste bags are filled with harmless waste that could be more cheaply disposed.

"There are many strategies that don't add risk to patients but allow hospitals to cut waste and reduce their carbon footprints," study lead author Dr. Martin A. Makary, an associate professor of surgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

He and his colleagues reviewed research on hospital environmental practices and then had a panel of experts develop a list of practical eco-friendly strategies that could be used in operating rooms.

The top five strategies are:

  • cutting down on and separating operating room waste
  • reprocessing single-use medical devices
  • considering the environment when making purchasing decisions
  • improving energy consumption, and
  • improved management of pharmacy waste.

To learn more:
- read the Archives of Surgery abstract
- read the Hopkins press release