ACS: Operating Room Can Be More Environmentally Friendly

Patient care not affected by greener sensitive practices
By Jane Parry
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 14 (HealthDay News) -- The operating room can be run in an environmentally sensitive way without compromising patient care, according to a paper presented at the 2008 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, held from Oct. 12 to 16 in San Francisco.

Juliana E. Hansen, M.D., and colleagues at the Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore., reported on surgeons' and operating room nurses' contribution to a campus-wide solid waste recycling program, in which approximately 300 pounds of uncontaminated paper and plastic products, such as packaging from sterilized instruments, suture material and gauze pads, used in the university's 21 inpatient operating rooms are collected for recycling each day.

Ensuring that only recyclable materials were put into recycling bins is key, because contaminated material put into a recycling bin means that the whole contents of the bin has to be thrown out, the author notes. Disciplined use of recycling bins was achieved by maintaining awareness and conducting education on a daily basis, while other environmentally friendly measures include using low-energy lighting and using environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

"The commitment that people are making in their personal lives to recycling and creating a more sustainable environment doesnt have to end the minute they walk in the operating room," Hansen explained in a statement. "Just because we are dealing with life and death issues doesnt mean that we have to stop thinking about the environment."

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