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Home E-Weekly November 20, 2012

Going Green Pays Off

Published: November 19, 2012

If hospitals nationwide worked to reduce their energy use, waste and surgical supply inefficiencies, total healthcare savings would total $15 billion over the next decade, according to collaborative research supported by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and Health Care Without Harm.

Operating rooms are large consumers of energy and waste management resources and account for 33% of all hospital supply costs, say the researchers. In their study, hospitals that sent single-use devices out for certified reprocessing and bought them back at a fraction of the price of new saved $12 per procedure, not including the resulting waste disposal savings. Extrapolated over 5 years and across all hospitals in the United States, those per-case savings would total $2.7 billion, according to the study.

The researchers also identified custom supply packs as sources of significant waste, as well as opportunities for substantial savings. Hospitals that asked suppliers to remove routinely unused supplies from packs saved $4.33 per procedure. If all hospitals reformulated their custom packs, say the researchers, savings would top $1 billion over 5 years.

In addition, the study stressed the importance of recycling, segregating non-infectious trash from medical waste and energy-reducing strategies such as lighting upgrades, installing occupancy sensors in public areas and lowering OR ambient temperatures.

"This research turns on its head the belief that introducing environmental sustainability measures increases operating costs," says Blair Sadler, JD, senior fellow at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, one of the study's authors and the former CEO of Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, Calif. "With little or no capital investments, significant operating savings can be realized."

Daniel Cook

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