Healthcare News & Insights

Common sense measures can save hospitals big bucks

Hospitals could be losing tens of thousands of dollars a year needlessly.

How? By incorrectly disposing of regular waste as biohazard waste, which costs about eight times more to process.

A recent study by the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that 50% to 85% of regular waste is disposed of  incorrectly as biohazard waste, which can result in hospitals spending tens of thousands of dollars per year in unnecessary costs.

Hospitals that want to save money right away should look at their operating rooms (ORs), which are responsible for between a third to a fifth of hospital’s waste.

By examining 65 prior studies, Dr. Yoan Kagoma and co-authors from the University of Western Ontario’s medical school came up with the following series of money-saving waste management recommendations:

  • Properly segregate waste.  Biohazard waste should only account for approximately 15% of a hospital’s waste. However, due to lack of staff awareness, 50% to 85% of the remaining non-hazardous waste is disposed of in the same costly manner as hazardous waste. To put that in perspective, the study estimated it cost $963 per ton to process biohazard waste, compared to $121 per ton for regular waste. The University of Pittsburgh’s Magee-Womens Hospital saved around $89,000 in 2010 by properly segregating waste in its ORs.
  • Use a collection system for fluids. Facilities can reduce their biohazard waste by installing closed collection systems for fluid waste, in which the material is diverted directly into sanitary sewers. The Good Samaritan Hospital of Suffern, NY, saved more than $85,000 in 2010 by diverting 250,000 pounds of fluid waste. According to the study, a single operation can produce 12 liters of the fluid.
  • Get customized surgical packs. As you know, most hospitals get their surgical equipment in pre-packed selection boxes. Surgeons often select their “favorite” tools, leaving the ones they don’t use to be disposed of because they have been exposed to the surgical field and share the same packaging. This is referred to as overage, and in 1993, overage from nearly 15 million surgical procedures cost $125 million. One solution to overage, which has been found to reduce it by as much as 45%,  is to get your surgical packs tailored to your hospital’s needs.

Does your hospital have any money saving tips for the OR?

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