Johns Hopkins researchers say they have identified practical strategies to implement environmentally friendly practices in operating rooms and other hospital facilities that could result in vastly reduced health care costs and pose no risk to patient safety.

Experts say health care facilities are second only to the food industry in contributing to waste products in the United States, producing more than 6,600 tons per day and more than four billion pounds annually. Operating rooms and labor-and-delivery suites together, the researchers say, account for nearly 70 percent of hospital waste…

…The Hopkins team says wider adoption of the pratice of recycling medical equipment is a potentially big saver of health care dollars and landfill space. Such equipment includes laparoscopic ports and durable cutting tools typically tossed out after a single use, Makary says. With proper sterilization, recalibration and testing, previous experience has shown that reprocessing equipment is safe, he adds. Often in surgery, items are taken out of their sterile packaging — sometimes in duplicate — in order to be quickly available should they be needed over the course of an operation. That practice needs to be reconsidered, he says…