Medical Waste: A Rising Challenge For Health Industry
The New York Times: The health care industry generates billions of pounds of garbage each year, and disposing of it all has become a problem. "The problem, fueled by a shift toward the use of disposables that made it simple to keep treatment practices sterile, has been an open secret for years, but getting the health care industry to change its habits has not been easy. No organization currently tracks how much medical trash the United States produces - the last known estimate, from the early 1990s, was two million tons a year."
Now, some organizations are are attempting to take on the challenge. "At a symposium in Baltimore in May, Practice Greenhealth" - a Reston, Va.,-based nonprofit - "announced an initiative called Greening the O.R. It will explore and vet the best sustainable practices for reducing operating-room garbage, energy consumption and indoor air quality problems - while lowering expenses and improving safety, [its director of sustainability education] said." Operating rooms are responsible for 20 to 30 percent of hospital waste (Chen, 7/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.