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Sustainability Initiatives in the Operating Room

      Background

      Operating rooms (ORs) contribute up to 30% of a hospital's waste, are very resource-intensive, and thus provide an opportunity for improvement.

      Methods

      A narrative review was conducted, searching MEDLINE, EMBASE, and ProQuest databases. The study included 78 of the 108 published articles.

      Results

      The researchers identified and categorized articles according to the following major themes: Committee and Leadership; Waste Reduction; Segregating OR waste; Minimizing unnecessary devices and packaging; Reducing energy consumption; Choosing anesthetic gases; Education; Reducing water consumption; Different surgical venues; Donating medical supplies. Formation of an OR committee or a hospital Green Team dedicated to environmentally sustainable initiatives can significantly improve health care's impact on the environment while saving money. Changes in supply chain with preferences for reusable devices, effective recycling, repurposing instruments, and donating items can all be effective means of diverting waste away from landfills. Reducing unnecessary packaging and instruments would eliminate excess in the waste stream. Curtailing energy and water usage results in cost and environmental savings. Surgical venue (inpatient vs. outpatient surgical center) can also contribute to waste. Transitioning away from certain inhaled anesthetics can minimize greenhouse gas impact. Education to all levels in the health care system is important to drive change and maintain change.

      Conclusion

      Optimizing efficiency and decreasing waste generation can have a positive impact on the environment and can be accompanied by cost reduction. Because the field of sustainability in health care is young but burgeoning, increased research is needed to support evidence-based approaches.
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