Wider adoption of recycling medical equipment could save hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars annually and curb trash at medical centers, the second-largest waste producers in the U.S. after the food industry.
The recommendation, made in an analysis by Johns Hopkins researchers in the March 2010 issue of the journal Academic Medicine, noted that with proper sterilization, recalibration and testing, reuse of equipment is safe.
“No one really thinks of good hospitals as massive waste producers, but they are,” says lead author Martin Makary, M.D., M.P.H., a surgeon and associate professor of public health at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Hospitals toss out everything from surgical gowns and towels to expensive ultrasonic cutting tools after a single use. In operating rooms, some items that are never even used are thrown away – single-use devices that are taken out of their packaging must be tossed out because they could have been contaminated. Selecting such good devices for resterilization and retesting could decrease the amount of needless waste.
And, the researchers say, hospitals could procure more items designed to be used safely more than once after being sterilized.
Hospitals are increasingly attracted to reprocessing because recycled devices can cost half as much as new equipment.
The above story is reprinted from ScienceDaily and materials provided by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.