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  • Paul Rivers

Hospital Sustainability, Part 4

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Green Medical Center (our fictitious hospital which is based on a Philadelphia-area hospital), through its Green Team, Purchasing Department and employees are encouraged by hospital administration to purchase the safest, least toxic and most environmentally friendly products and services available. The hospital was honored in 2006 with the EPA Trailblazer Award for demonstrating leadership in reducing waste, improving indoor air quality and investing in reusable rather than disposable products. Under the direction of the Green Team Chair, the hospital brought together manufacturers, suppliers, group purchasing organizations and Philadelphia-area hospital executives to leverage their influence and buying power. It started a conversation among many vested parties and produced a written environmental policy for regional hospitals to follow.


The goals of this policy are to reduce the consumption of resources, reuse materials, recycle or re-sell materials and explore the use of alternative materials. These practices are less damaging than traditional purchasing to human health and to the environment. The Group Purchasing Organization, manufacturers and vendors were educated on the policy. They are expected to comply with the policy or risk losing business. Green Medical Center’s office supply partner now offers over 3,000 environmentally friendly office products, facility supplies, recycled paper, rechargeable batteries, refillable ink cartridges, remanufactured toner cartridges and Green Seal cleaning supplies. Most corrugated shipping boxes are made from 35% to 100% recycled products. Other vendors deliver their products in reusable totes.


Reprocessed Medical Devices

One of the most significant money-saving initiatives for healthcare purchasing is the safe reprocessing (cleaning, testing/verifying, sterilizing and packaging) and remanufacturing (disassembling, repairing) of “single-use” medical devices. After thorough scrutiny by the Infection Control Committee, the hospital now saves approximately $500,000 per year by safely reprocessing and reusing “single use” devices. Often the devices are reprocessed and reused many times vs. discarding the devices after a single use. There is greater than $1,000,000 in potential in cost savings yet to be realized. Reprocessing also saves about 7,000 pounds per year in waste.


Here are some of the devices that are currently reprocessed by Green Medical Center:

*Electrophysiology Catheters and Cables

*Pulse Oximetry Probes

*Compression Devices

*Diagnostic Catheters

*Cardiac Catheters

*Tourniquet cuffs


Do you have questions or comments about environmentally preferable purchasing or reprocessing of medical devices? If so, please post a comment on our blog, or contact Paul Rivers or Tom Petersen at 215-881-9401.


Tune back in next week for the last two parts of our hospital sustainability series, where we will cover energy conservation, resource conservation and single-stream recycling.


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