Greening the OR

In a typical hospital, the operating room represents about 30% of the hospital’s resource use and waste generation. Greening the OR is a significant opportunity for environmentally preferable purchasing, energy and water management, waste reduction, and reduction in human exposure to toxic chemicals.

Surgical Kit Review

Reviewing the contents of custom surgical kits provides the opportunity to modify their contents to reduce waste and costs. Custom kit reviews took place at two locations during 2013: UH Case Medical Center and St. John Medical Center. These resulted in considerable cost savings. We are developing tracking mechanisms to quantify avoided waste resulting from custom kit reviews, and aim to ensure reviews of the majority of custom kits at each of our medical centers.

Total surgical kits available for review systemwide: 123
Total surgical kits reviewed in 2013: 28

Single-Use Device Reprocessing

In a safe and FDA-regulated manner, medical devices marked for single use can be collected, dismantled, cleaned, reassembled and quality checked. This is called reprocessing, and reduces waste and purchase costs.

We are increasing reprocessing rates of medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs and pressure infuser bags, and are working to expand the range of products we are able to reprocess. In the fall of 2013, UH began increasing reprocessable medical product collection in operating rooms, starting with disposable tourniquet cuffs, with the long-term goal of collecting more items and increasing repurchases of reprocessed devices.

Our goal is to increase expenditures on reprocessed devices by 50 percent compared to our 2013 baseline (this outcome measure is a proxy for increased device collection and landfill diversion, as well as cost savings).

Systemwide collection of SUDs for reprocessing in 2013: 7.2 tons

Other Greening the OR Progress

Greening the OR, UH Ahuja Medical Center

Greening the OR, UH Ahuja Medical Center

  • Medical Plastics Recycling
  • Locations such as University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center, University Hospitals Richmond Medical Center and University Hospitals Bedford Medical Center are using waste-reducing procurement practices in the OR, such as reusable sterilization kits and reusable patient positioning devices.
  • LED OR light installations have taken place at UH Ahuja Medical Center, University Hospitals Geneva Medical Center and University Hospitals Case Medical Center (where they continue to take place). These lighting systems are preferred not only for their energy efficiency but also because they are an improvement from a surgical performance perspective (e.g., improved temperature control for staff and patients, and more accurate lighting balance).
  • Locations such as University Hospitals Geauga Medical Center use microfiber mops in the OR to reduce waste, ergonomic stress and water.
  • UH Ahuja Medical Center was featured in a 2013 Practice Greenhealth Greening the OR newsletter for its sustainability efforts; the same location was also highlighted in a short video vignette, produced by the Office of Sustainability, to educate employees and visitors about their green OR procedures.

15 Environmental Excellence awards

UH received 15 Environmental Excellence awards from Practice Greenhealth, including the prestigious System for Change award, for our systemwide achievements in sustainability in 2013.