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Case study: Reducing healthcare waste – India

Reducing Healthcare Waste
Aravind Eye Hos­pital in India generated an average of 0.25 kg of waste per phacoemulsifica­tion procedure, two-thirds of which is recycled. In contrast, the 3 participating U.S. medical centres generated 2.3 to 3.9 kg of waste per case.

  • The cost of single-use surgical supplies was $380 per surgery in the United States, versus $7 in India.
  • The carbon footprint of surgery at Aravind Eye Hos­pital was about 5% that of the same procedure in the U.S. insti­tutions
  • The Aravind Eye Hos­pital system minimises single-use items: In contrast to U.S. practice, all gowns and drapes for cataract surgery are made of reusable materials, except for 1 dispos­able face drape. Most surgical instru­ments are also reusable, and pharma­ceutical products are multi-use

This study was conducted by Dr. Thiel, Eye and Ear Foundation, Pittsburgh, USA. In her report you can read her findings, recommendations and advice in more detail.

Dr. Thiel’s advice to physicians who want to reduce waste:

  • Tell your surgical team that you want to minimise waste.
  • Before opening surgical packs or sup­plies, confirm that the item is necessary.
  • Ask your facility to switch to reus­able instruments and supplies where appropriate.
  • Encourage proper waste sorting or recycling and instrument reprocessing.
  • Check out Health Care Without Harm and/or Practice Greenhealth for more ideas.

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