Practice Greenhealth

Medical Journal Affirms Case for Greener Operating Rooms

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Source: Practice Greenhealth

Article Demonstrates That Hospital Efforts to Reduce Waste and Environmental Impact Can Protect Health and Benefit the Bottom Line

RESTON, VA -- (Marketwire) -- 06/13/12 -- An article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal which examined the efforts to green hospital operating rooms supports the work currently underway by Practice Greenhealth, the nation's leading membership organization for institutions in healthcare that have made a commitment to sustainable, environmentally friendly practices.

The article, which appeared in the Canadian Medical Association Journal's June issue, builds on much of the research used to establish Practice Greenhealth's Greening the OR® Initiative. Launched in 2010, Greening the OR® brings together the body of knowledge around environmental best practices in the OR that can also improve patient safety, worker health and the bottom line. These programs include proper waste segregation, the use of reusable surgical linens and rigid sterilization containers, energy reduction, more efficient fluid waste management systems, and reprocessing of single-use devices -- to name a few. More than 200 hospitals are currently participating in the Initiative, which is a free collaboration designed to get the right tools and resources into the hands of committed healthcare professionals.

'Through case studies, implementation guides, webinars, checklists, and 3D interactive opportunities, the Greening the OR® Initiative has laid out a framework for hospitals to improve their environmental footprint and see rewards to their bottom line,' said Laura Wenger, Executive Director of Practice Greenhealth.

Hospitals are large-scale users of energy. With energy-intensive equipment and the highest rate of required air changes per hour, the operating room contributes significantly to the facility's total energy consumption. The OR is also a major consumer of supplies, comprising as much as 33% percent of the hospital's supply budget. In addition, operating rooms produce a disproportionate amount of waste -- between 20 and 30 percent of a hospital's total waste volume. Much of the nation's operating room waste is still disposed of as regulated medical waste (RMW), even though a large portion of the waste does not qualify as biohazardous. RMW typically costs between 5-10 times more in disposal fees than regular waste. In addition, most operating room supplies are thrown out after just one use -- or even after being opened but not used, even though reuse may be an option.

The Canadian journal article highlighted the achievements of many of the hospitals participating in the Greening the OR®, many of whom have reaped numerous benefits from their efforts. Participants include Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital which saved more than $72,000 a year on patient warming devices after raising the ambient temperature in the OR incrementally, and the University of Minnesota Medical Center - Fairview which saves over $100,000 annually by reviewing and removing unnecessary items from OR kits.

For more information about Greening the OR® and how to become a participating hospital, please visit www.greeningtheOR.org.

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, environmentally friendly practices. To help hospitals run more efficient, environmentally-friendly operating rooms, Practice Greenhealth introduced the Greening the OR Initiative, which helps hospitals reduce environmental impact, reduce costs, increase efficiency and improve worker and patient safety. Sponsors of the Greening the OR® Initiative include: Becton Dickinson, Cardinal Health, HCA Healthcare, HDR Inc., Hospira, Kimberly-Clark, M+NLB, Medline, SRI Surgical, Stryker Sustainability Solutions, and Velmed Inc.

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