Understanding Life Cycle Assessments: What they tell us about Reprocessed Single-Use Devices and Greenhouse Gas Emissions A Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) is a systematic analysis of the environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a product's life from cradle to grave. This starts with the extraction of raw materials, materials processing, manufacturing,
Researchers and Regulators Endorse Reprocessing “[Hospitals and health systems should] switch from disposable to reusable products such as reusable isolation gowns, dishware, linens, surgical supplies [and] optimize reprocessing as allowed per FDA regulations.” ~ Key Actions to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by U.S. Hospitals and Health Systems "[Reprocessing] of SUDs
Climate change is a public health issue that threatens all of us. Water and air pollution increase, leading to more chronic respiratory disease, such as asthma. Increased temperatures due to climate change lead to increased ground-level ozone, which cause airway inflammation and damages lung tissue. That hospitals are a leading cause of climate change producing emissions should be a call to action to all healthcare workers to reduce waste and lower emissions.
Report after report sounds the alarm. Hospitals are running out of money. One example: News from the Washington State Hospital Association that, if current trends continue, “about half of the state’s hospitals will be out of money by the end of 2023.” Hospitals in the state face over $2.5 billion in losses. The culprit is a brew comprised of longer hospital stays, growing wages, and a spike in travel costs.
We learn from the earliest age that nature is circular. When a plant or animal is born it enters a circle of life. But in the industrialized world, when a new cell phone model is released or a refrigerator is broken “beyond repair,” we are conditioned to buy anew. Each new product requires raw materials to be extracted from the Earth. Additional non-renewable resources are used to manufacture, assemble, then ship the product.
What began as a pandemic-driven personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage has grown into a massive worldwide, healthcare products supply chain nightmare. “This is a national problem,” said Lori Lee, Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations, Yale New Haven Health, in an interview with Forbes. When shortages of PPE were resolved, “everyone was happy, including us. What people don’t realize is that now it has moved to all these other categories
Over 300 types of medical devices labelled for “single-use” are regulated or cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other Notified Bodies for commercial reprocessing (known as “remanufacturing” in Europe). While over 10,300 hospitals use at least some reprocessed devices, most hospitals are not realizing the full benefits of reprocessing.
With the advent of better plastics in the early 1980s, and the then-threat of the little understood HIV/AIDS virus, the market for disposable medical devices exploded. A culture in healthcare has since enshrined the belief that disposables are safer, less expensive, and more convenient (The Verge, March 2020).