Hospitals Join Effort to Green Nation’s Operating Rooms

RESTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A growing number of hospitals are joining the Greening the Operating Room (OR) Initiative, Practice Greenhealth’s broad coalition that plans to develop a sweeping and prescriptive path to green the country’s operating rooms. The Greening the OR Initiative was launched earlier this year in an effort to raise awareness of the huge contribution made by operating rooms to a hospital’s waste stream, which can produce between 20 and 30 percent of a hospital’s total waste.

The Greening the OR initiative is a collaborative effort of forward-thinking hospitals, manufacturers, and related stakeholders, under the auspices of Practice Greenhealth, to develop best practices guidance documents to help reduce the environmental impact of the nation’s operating rooms. Greening the OR will also help hospitals reduce costs, increase quality and improve worker and patient safety.

Healthcare organizations thus far participating in the Greening the OR Initiative include:

The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, NH
Fairview Health Services, Minneapolis, MN
Frankfort Regional Medical Center, Frankfort, KY
Frank R Howard Memorial Hospital, Willits, CA
Iowa Health System, Des Moines, IA
Lee's Summit Medical Center, Lee's Summit, MO
Magee-Women's Hospital of UPMC, Pittsburgh, PA
MetroWest Medical Center, Natick, MA
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York, NY
Providence Health & Services - Portland Service Area, Portland, OR
Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, WI
Spectrum Butterworth Hospital, Grand Rapids, MI
St. John Hospital & Medical Center, Detroit, MI
University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, MD
VA Medical Center, Memphis, TN


Catholic Healthcare West: more than 40 hospitals and care centers across California, Arizona and Nevada

Operating rooms are some of the most resource-intensive and waste-generating areas of a hospital. A recent study estimated supply costs of operating rooms could eat up as much as 56 percent of total operating room budgets, dwarfing salary costs at which run about 35 percent of operating room budgets. In addition to producing between 20 to 30 percent of a hospital’s total waste volume, much of the waste disposed from operating rooms is thrown out as regulated medical waste, which costs between 10 and 15 times more in disposal fees than regular waste. Much of this waste could be disposed outside of the regulated medical waste stream. In addition, most operating room supplies are thrown out after just one use, even though re-use may be an option.

“The operating room is like another planet. From the surgeon’s perspective, objects magically appear and then disappear just as quickly,” said Dr. Noe Copley-Woods, Assistant Professor, Division of Gynecologic Specialties, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Magee-Women's Hospital. “The surgeons joining this initiative realize this stuff has to come from somewhere, and go somewhere else.”

“At the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Fairview and Fairview Riverside Medical Center, we have reduced waste from our operating rooms in a simple and very systematic way,” said Dr. Rafael Andrade, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Department of Surgery, Division of General Thoracic and Foregut Surgery, University of Minnesota. “These changes have resulted in a reduction of waste from each facility of about 1,000 pounds per day, and a monetary savings of $100,000 a year.”

Among possible areas for “green” interventions in the Operating Room are the following:

  • Single-Use Device (SUD) Reprocessing
  • Reusable vs. Disposables: Gowns, Surgical Drapes, Basins and other Reusables
  • Operating Room Kit Formulation
  • Waste Anesthetic Gas Scavenging Systems
  • Fluid Waste Management Systems
  • Energy Use/Lighting & Thermal Comfort
  • Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) Minimization/Segregation
  • Substitution of Reusable Hard Cases for Blue Sterile Wrap
  • Recycling of Medical Plastics
  • Laser Safety/ Smoke Evacuation
  • Green Cleaning/Proper Disinfection in a Surgical Setting
  • Medical Equipment and Supplies Donation

“We are so pleased to be able to work with so many leading U.S. hospitals on this very important initiative,” said Bob Jarboe, Executive Vice President of Business Development for Practice Greenhealth. “Each of these hospitals brings a great deal of experience and expertise in reducing operating room impacts and costs to the table.”

Additional information about the Greening the OR Initiative is available on-line at:

About Practice Greenhealth

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading membership and networking organization for institutions in healthcare that have made a commitment to sustainable, eco-friendly practices. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth’s Greening the OR initiative visit


Practice Greenhealth
Mary Lisi, 888-379-6664
[email protected]

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  Virginia

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Surgery  Practice Management  Health  Hospitals  Medical Devices  Environment