More than 25 percent of U.S. hospitals are taking advantage of reprocessing single use medical devices as a means of reducing landfill waste, according to a new report from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
In 2008 alone, hospitals served by one major reprocessor saved $138 million nationwide by diverting 4.3 million pounds of medical waste from local landfills, according to the report (PDF), which appeared in the March issue of Academic Medicine.
That year saw a 20 percent increase in reprocessing services the service provider, according to the report.
Items that lend themselves to reprocessing include:
– elastic bandages
– pressure infuser bags
– tourniquet cuffs,
– general-use surgical scissors
– pulse oximeter sensors
– ultrasound catheters
– compression sleeves
– a range of other laparoscopic equipment.
Items listed above fall into Class I and II devices, meaning they pose low or medium risk in reprocessing.
Class III items, which require valid scientific data proving safety and effectiveness of reprocessing, include balloon angioplasty catheters and implanted infusion pumps, among others.
The study is starting to garner some notice, including this report in Business Week.
The EPA provides details about disposing of medical waste.