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Medical Devices Free Essay Sample
The growing number of medical institutions induced the government of numerous countries to ponder on sustainability initiatives that increase energy efficiency and protect the environment, as well as to develop strategies concerning waste diversion, water-use efficiency, and healthy food. Previously, these aspects were not studied in depth. Most attention was paid to the examination of the impact hospital operating rooms had on the environment. In particular, the study concerned the operation of healthcare products, applied procedures, and facility systems. Smaller-scoped studies concerned the use of hospital surgical equipment and other medical devices that could negatively influence the environment. Global warming made the experts more thoroughly investigate the issue of the environmental impact of the medical devices since their application can aggravate the threat. The paper is based on the comparative assessment of the negative influence the selected medical devices have and the identification of the two most dangerous. The analysis helps elaborate on the range of regulatory, legislative, and abatement measures to improve the situation and reduce the impact.
Assessment of the Impact of the Medical Devices
The study proves that the level of produced medical wastes constantly increases and requires deeper analysis with the aim to identify the effective ways of healthcare wastes disposal. The analysis of the peer publications confirms the need for proper waste management, which becomes a serious issue that needs to be addressed to avoid irreparable harm (Ribeiro & Henriques 2013, p. 301). The research is based on the deeper study of a range of medical devices and their impact on the environment. These products include laryngeal mask airways, scissors, dental burs, and other medical devices. Figure 3 shows the results of the impact assessment of the regarded items including such characteristics as GHG, energy, economics, and water.
The data in the cells of economics and GHG columns were gained through the division of reusable value by the single-used disposable value that helped to identify the level of material’s overall reusability not regarding its size (Park 2006, p. 153). As a result, the experts identified that the kits of central venous catheter insertion and bedpans have more significant emissions of GHG during their utilization than the reusable ones ( Ribeiro, Silva & Henriques 2013, p. 224). Besides, these devices have a lower level of favourability in terms of economics. The experts also identified that both reused and disposal central venous catheter kits have a considerable environmental impact (Lewandowska & Kurczewski 2010, p. 769). Scissors, despite their small size, have the highest emission of CO2eq because of the stainless steel which is not appropriate for single use. These aspects induce the crucial life-cycle input that is higher than the input of bedpans and kits of central venous catheter insertion.
The risk of the use of scissors rises in case stainless steel is used for disposable instruments. However, the green cells in the graph indicate favorable results concerning the scissors’ impact on GHG emission (Lewandowska & Kurczewski 2010, p. 770). The utilization of scissors results in greater economic costs which makes them risky devices. The investigation also proved that reusable products are more admissible than the products of the single-use (Campion 2015). For example, disposable gowns do more harm than the reused ones. The experts also identified that larger devices require higher economic costs. Therefore, the gown is marked red in the column of economic costs. These costs include the use of water for leaning the medical products (Campion 2015). The process of cleaning also requires the use of energy. The study of all analyzed medical equipment helps to identify that the dental burs require the highest energy expenses. However, other data show no significant impact of dental bur on the environment.
Environmental Risks Caused by the Riskiest Devices
The analysis of the data in the table shows that the most dangerous medical products are disposable gowns and central venous catheter kits. The disposable medical gowns usually are made of polypropylene clearing of which involves many energy and water resources. According to the Joint Commission of Healthcare Organization, an average hospital in America spends approximately $67 per ton to dispose of the wastes, including disposable gowns (Campion et al. 2015, p. 46). Applying the waste model, the experts identified that the use of disposable products instead of reusable can lead to additional costs that make up to $ 250,000 (Campion at al. 2015, p. 49). The disposable gowns have been chosen as one of the most dangerous products because the increased number of hospitals means more medical personnel who need these gowns. Growing demand boosts production and, as the result, increases air pollutant emission (Campion et al. 2015, p. 51). This results in climate change, the formation of particulate matter, ocean acidification, and ozone layer depletion.
The other harmful medical instrument is a central venous catheter kit. The environmental risks that this device causes are connected with economics, and water and energy consumption. The investigation of McGain, McAlister, McGavin, and Story shows that reused central venous catheter insertion kits are economically more effective than single-used kits because they cost less. In addition, the device requires considerable costs for recycling. However, both recycling and reused kits require a high level of water use which reaches the point of 28 (McGain et al. 2012, p. 1074). The level of CO2 emission for the reusable kit is 1211 g when for disposable it reaches 407 g. Different sources of electricity needed for reusable kits production significantly increase CO2 emissions (McGain et al. 2012, p. 1068). The investigation shows that the electricity from the hospital gas cogeneration comprises 437 g, while the American electricity grid is 765 g, and the European grid – 573 g.
The study of the risks caused by two devices proves that both of them have such common negative impacts as high water and energy use. Besides, recycling these devices requires high costs. However, disposable gowns have a lower economic impact that induces the contrast between the risks of both materials (Cartwright et al. 2011). The most crucial difference in core environmental impact is air pollution caused by the growing need to manufacture disposable gowns. Therefore, there is a great difference between the environmental risks both devices cause (Shuman & Chenoweth 2012, p. 169). The other crucial aspect is that disposable gowns have a better alternative that can improve the impact on the environment, while both disposable and reused central venous catheter kits influence the environment negatively.
The Solutions for Mitigation of the Environmental Impact
Investigation of the influence of disposal gowns suggests that it would be reasonable to use the alternative product reusable gown. It would be effective to pass the law concerning the prohibition of the disposable gowns use intending to reduce the impact on the environment (Kwakye, Pronovost & Makary 2010, p. 398). Obviously, the impact will not be eliminated because the reusable gowns will require constant washing and ironing that could result in the excessive use of water and energy. However, technologies develop very fast, and while only one year ago, washing a pound of healthcare textile required approximately three gallons of water, today, the same quantity of material needs only three-quarters of the galloon (Kwakye, Pronovost & Makary 2010, p. 398). Besides, great benefits can be gained when using the advanced water system and recycling, as well as reusing water (Kwakye, Pronovost & Makary 2010, p. 399). Numerous investigations in this sphere proved that the development of new technologies also enabled the reduction of the amount of natural gas and oil necessary for the washers, ironers, and dryers. Thus, it becomes less expensive in terms of both natural and chemical resources which also proves the increase in economic effectiveness. Another crucial aspect that can reduce the impact on the environment is abatement measures to reduce the use of natural textile because its washing requires more water. The experts who studied the efficiency of different gowns argue that polyester gowns do not require expensive maintenance (Sherman, Lamers & Eckelman 2012, p. 1087). This gown is lighter than other types of reusable gowns. This aspect can significantly influence the reduction of the energy consumption needed for its production (Overcash 2012, p. 1056). Besides, hospitals will need less energy and water for washing, drying, and sterilization (Sherman, Lamers & Eckelman 2012, p. 1088). The gowns made of combined cotton and polyester materials consume much less water than cotton gowns which reduces the impact on the environment.
Another abatement measure concerns both disposable gowns and central venous catheter kits. The crucial task of this measure is the reduction of the impact on the environment through limiting the use of packs for medical equipment (Yang et al. 2011, p. 657). The medical specialists assert that sometimes packing of some devices is excessive. Besides, the device package includes an instruction translated into the different languages. Thus, it would be appropriate to make the wholesale purchases because the packaging of several devices will need one package and one instruction (Shuman & Chenoweth 2012, p. 186). It would be also appropriate to choose the package with the instruction printed on it but not on a separate piece of paper (Yang et al. 2011, p. 688). It is recommendable to install recycling bins instead of recycling materials in hospitals to avoid their mixing that could impede their effective processing.
As to the central venous catheter kit, it would be appropriate to apply such legislative measures as designing the framework coordination of the central and state authorities under the developed Act of Water and Air Protection and setting the standards for emission and discharge of the medical equipment (Bare 2011, p. 691). Such an approach will induce search and manufacture of an alternative kit that could substitute the used equipment.
The regulatory measures can be common for both types of risky devices and would include constant waste audits. It would be appropriate to pay attention to the duration of the reusable gown usage according to the regulatory standards. As to the central venous catheter kit, it would be effective to monitor the waste management process. The crucial aspect is the implementation of the educational sessions and the formation of green teams in hospitals (Bare 2011, p. 694). A good example is the staff initiative in Women’s College Hospital that implemented a specific program to ensure appropriate recycling of plastic packing and paper (Bare 2011, p. 695). Thus, the effective solution is to require the formation of a responsible team in every hospital to simplify the control and improve the waste management process. The beneficial aspect is also the implementation of green programs for disposal and procurement (Bare 2011, p. 696). The best solution is to reduce the number of wastes from the operating rooms and patients’ wards. The initiative can be supported by financial incentives. The local government should increase the waste costs for hospitals and reward the medical institutions that reduce the number of landfills and show good results in waste management.
The investigation of the environmental impact of the medical devices shows that the problem requires constant research and application of innovative technologies to reduce the negative impact. Among the range of medical devices, the most dangerous are central venous catheter kits and disposal gowns. The study of their negative impact on the environment shows that substitution of the disposal gowns with polyester or cotton/polyester reused gowns the maintenance of which requires lower expenses and fewer resources is the best alternative. The situation with a central venous catheter kit is more complicated because both reusable and disposal kinds of equipment cause significant harm to the environment. The right solution for reducing the negative influence is the reduction of the usage of packages and the introduction of more rigid control of the waste management process. To reduce the impact of both devices, it would be appropriate to form green teams in hospitals to control the waste management process.
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