Hospitals & Health Networks

June 19, 2012

By Haydn Bush

At most hospitals, John Danby, the sustainability administrator for University of California-Davis Health System, says, “if somebody gets past 50 percent in [waste reduction], they have a big party.” But UC-Davis has a steeper mandate to fulfill. As part of the University of California system, the hospital is tied to a system-wide pledge to achieve zero waste by 2020. Achieving that goal for a hospital will prove to be an extremely tall order, but Danby says there are plenty of creative ways to reduce its overall footprint while improving the bottom line.

“For any hospital in the environment we are in today, the easiest way to get traction with sustainability is to show a cost containment,” Danby says.

That ethos has translated to a widespread and eclectic range of initiatives that target both reduced environmental impact and cost savings. Several years ago, Sally Lee, who now directs the hospital’s value analysis program, was working on a technology committee with a focus on physician preference items when she discovered that a number of other hospitals, including UC-San Francisco, were reprocessing single-use medical devices instead of throwing them out and buying new ones.

…To convince doctors there was no downside to using recycled items, the hospital created a reprocessing committee, which worked with physicans, the hospital’s risk management team and infection prevention experts to research its clinical impact. Ultimately, the commitee determined that device re-processors are held to the same Food & Drug Administration standards as medical device manufacturers, and identified a 2008 Government Accountability Office report that found no elevated health risk for reprocessed devices…

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To learn more about the benefits of reprocessed single-use devices, please visit AMDR on the web or send an email to