Hospitals and medical practices produce a lot of waste. Indeed medical facilities generate more than 4 billion pounds of garbage every year, with the majority of the waste stemming from operating and delivery rooms. While healthcare facilities will always create a significant amount of garbage, eco-conscious medical providers can make several small adjustments to make their practices kinder to Mother Earth.

Making a medical practice more sustainable means rethinking current waste disposal methods while still meeting governmental guidelines for the management of biohazardous waste. Also, creating a sustainable practice involves implementing common sense solutions to reduce non-hazardous waste by reusing materials. Consider the following when redesigning medical practices to make them more eco-friendly.

Cutting Back on Single-Use Devices

Single-use devices (SUDs) make up a sizable percentage of many medical facilities’ waste. Yet facilities can recycle many SUDs, saving the planet while at the same time saving the practice a significant sum of money. For example, the San Diego branch of Kaiser Permanente switched to recycling SUDs and in doing so saved approximately $300,000 in just one year.

Also, hospitals and other surgical facilities can significantly reduce waste by eliminating unnecessary items from their surgical kits. Typically, surgeons simply grab a standard kit when heading into the operating room. Many of the supplies in ordinary kits, such as certain syringes and plastic vomit basins go unused but get discarded.

Medical professionals should evaluate their surgical kits and determine which items most often go unused. Once the team has created a list of unnecessary things, they should contact the manufacturer of their surgical kits and ask them to remove the superfluous devices. For example, the same Kaiser Permanente facility reduced the number of items in their surgical kits from 40 down to 27.

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