The U.S. healthcare industry spends more than $200 billion annually on medical and non-medical products. Unfortunately, many of the products and materials that come into a hospital may be harmful to patients, staff, and visitors, because they may contain or release (during production, use or disposal) carcinogens or toxins. Environmentally preferable purchasing (EPP), in healthcare, means buying products and services that are safer for human health and the environment. EPP plans include procedures that expand the scope of environmental purchasing, as new environmentally healthy products are identified. Environmentally preferable purchasing should also help the healthcare facility reduce waste and operate more efficiently, while still placing the safety of patients, staff, and visitors first.
- Create an Administrative Policy and Procedure for the SUD Reprocessing Program, given new market conditions.
- Continue to increase the purchase of recycled, reprocessed, and “green” products.
The Chair of our Product Management Committee (PMC) leads the committee to consider the following attributes during the selection process of new or substitute products.
- Use less of it.
- Conserve (e.g., use less water, energy, or virgin resources to produce or use. Energy Star rating).
- Eliminate/reduce waste (e.g., minimal packaging).
- Reduce toxicity (e.g., non-DHEP, no chlorine).
- Ability to recycle.
- Comparable functionality and effectiveness.
- Consideration of total cost of ownership (e.g., unit cost, cost of waste, etc.
The Product Management Committee (PMC) meets monthly and is focused on Value Analysis and Safety. We discuss what products will be approved for use at the Hospital. We also engage our GPOs to provide details on EPP attributes. There are established agreements for reprocessing and recycling services.
We have trained staff in sustainable procurement. Vizient conducted a presentation to our Commodities group to review and explain the EPP program available through the GPO. Staff was taught how to access and target sustainable product offerings on the Vizient Contract site. Discussions also defined attributes and how suppliers are being more environmentally responsible.
In the Print Shop, we use only recycled paper; some of the paper (white) is close to 100 percent recycled. We purchase only paints, adhesives and sealants that are low or no VOC (volatile organic compounds.) We purchase reusable surgical items and reprocessed medical devices (such as electrophysiology catheters) where clinically preferable. In 2021, participating in the SterilMed reprocessing program, we collected 21,987 devices and diverted 2,868 lbs. from landfills. We purchase flooring, wall coverings, paints, mats, finishes, furniture, and exterior materials that avoid chemicals of concern.
We have changed the way we wash patients, which allows us to create a much smaller carbon footprint and has eliminated the use of 100,000 plastic wash basins per year. Instead of plastic wash basins, we now wash patients with pre-moistened towels, made from recycled paper, that decompose.
In operating rooms, we use the Neptune system to consolidate medical waste so it can be properly disposed.
Our Product Management Committee approves purchases of all clinical products. End-user departments must tell us whether the products they want to purchase contain such substances as PVC, DEHC, mercury and lead.
We have twice won the Environmental Excellence Award, from reprocessing vendor Sterilmed, for purchase of recycled and reprocessed products.
Steve Weisman, Michael DeMasi, Bert Sansaricq
EC0069 Hospital Recycling and Sustainability