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Green OR Initiative Launched

A movement is under way to develop and implement sustainable practices in surgical facilities across the country.

Published: May 14, 2010

It's time to focus on sustainability in the OR in order to reduce health care's environmental impact, control costs and improve staff and patient safety, according to Reston, Va.-based Practice Greenhealth.

The networking organization for facilities focused on eco-friendly practices has launched its Greening the OR Initiative, a program aimed at developing best practices, guidance documents, case studies and recommendations for greening the OR based on the insights of healthcare leaders, manufacturers and industry representatives.

Increased efforts to bring sustainable practices to the front line will limit the high rate of waste generated in the OR, which Practice Greenhealth says accounts for up to 30% of a surgical facility's waste stream. Since a majority of that waste ends up in red bags, its disposal costs 10 to 15 times more than that of municipal trash. In addition, Practice Greenhealth says half of a typical facility's budget is spent on reusable supplies that are thrown out after being used once or not at all.

Some of the greatest opportunities for going green in the OR lie in reprocessing single-use devices, using reusable surgical fabrics, capturing waste anesthetic gases, evacuating surgical smoke, recycling medical plastics and using environmentally safe cleaning solutions.

To learn more about the Greening the OR Initiative and to join in the effort, visit the program's website.

Daniel Cook

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