According to Practice Greenhealth, operating rooms drive up to 60% of a hospital’s revenue while producing more than 30% of a facility’s waste and two-thirds of its regulated medical waste and consuming nearly three to six times more energy per square foot than anywhere else in the facility. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center works with a group of engaged clinicians to look at best practices and implement new procedures to improve efficiency and reduce waste in the operating room space.

  • The first focus was to lower the environmental impact of gases associated with anesthesia, with a special focus on reducing the use of the anesthesia desflurane, which has 10 times the global warming potential as sevoflurane, a similar alternative to desflurane. The task force achieved a 48% reduction of desflurane across the health system, realizing nearly $300,000 in cost savings over a three-year period.
  • Collection of blue sterilization wrap (used to keep instruments sterile) continued at two new additional OR pavilions in FY21 and has resulted in more than 5 tons being diverted from landfills.

Moving toward zero waste in the operating rooms

In FY22, we took to the operating rooms to improve the sustainability of some of our clinical spaces. The first initiative included switching the current operating room pack tray to a biobased tray. This new tray can be recycled, and it is estimated to have an 80% lower carbon footprint than the plastic counterparts. Additionally, we worked with our vendor to conduct a review to determine which supplies were still needed in the pack and which items were no longer necessary. These changes resulted in more than $115,000 in cost savings and over 2 tons of waste avoided.