While operating rooms take up only 6% of the hospital floor space, they are responsible for 30% of all hospital waste. This can and should be greener, LUMC believes. The National Green OR Network has received a grant from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport that allows doctors and researchers to develop a barometer that gives hospitals insight into the environmental impact of their OR.
Anesthesia gases, air freshening that is on 24/7 and large amounts of waste are not exactly what make operating rooms (OR) in hospitals environmentally friendly. Previously, several initiatives were started at LUMC to reduce this, such as reducing environmentally harmful anesthesia gases in the OR and separating waste. But in fact, hospitals across the country are not at all clear on exactly what the environmental impact of their OR is and how they compare to other hospitals.
"We have been working for some time to green the operating rooms at LUMC in a patient-safe way. But are we doing it right? Are we overlooking anything? Or are there things that other hospitals can actually learn from us," says Prof. Dr. Frank Willem Jansen, a gynecologist at LUMC and chairman of both Medical Delta and the National Green OR Network. "In order to gain these kinds of insights, we have taken up the initiative from the Green OR National Network to develop a Green OR Barometer, convinced that this will provide useful information for very many hospitals in the Netherlands."
With the obtained €500,000 grant, the LUMC, together with the Radboudumc and Gupta Strategists, will, among other things, develop a barometer that can compare the environmental impact of OR complexes in hospitals. "Here we focus specifically on the OR and on three areas, namely energy consumption, consumption of materials and process indications. For the latter, consider, for example, whether agreements have been made on waste separation," Jansen explains.
Under the motto "measuring is knowing," Jansen already conducted a quick scan together with TU Delft in 2017. This revealed that emissions from the operating rooms at LUMC amount to 1,500 tons of CO2 and that over 170,000 kg of waste is produced each year.
About 12 hospitals now provide Jansen and colleagues with data on which they are calibrating the barometer. "The intention is to roll out the barometer nationwide after development. This will give boards, but also physicians, better insight into the status of the sustainability of their care. That can lead to targeted interventions, in measure and number, to make care greener," says Jansen. "With this, we want to green the most polluting area of the hospital - the operating room - in as many hospitals as possible in the Netherlands."
Read LUMC's news release here (NL)
The development of the Green OR Barometer has received attention in various media. For example, listen to an item from BNR news radio here
More information can also be found on the website of The Green OR and on the sustainability page of Medical Delta