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Sustainable Healthcare

On this Project:


Melissa M. Bilec


Life Cycle Assessment of Surgeries in Operating Rooms - Hysterectomies in the US

Hospitals generate nearly 4 billion tons of waste annually and remain one of the most energy-intensive building types in the US.  Improved environmental performance within hospitals is estimated to reduce healthcare spending nearly $5.4 billion in the next 5 years.  This project establishes a hybrid Life Cycle Assessment framework and Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis as tools to help identify the healthcare industry’s baseline environmental performance and to measure the impact of sustainability improvement efforts.  This case study of the four types of hysterectomies conducted at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC shows that the production and disposal of single-use materials and devices, and the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems have the highest environmental loading within the OR.

This study identified upstream material manufacturing as an area for large environmental improvements in healthcare facilities.  For example, single-use cotton materials such as towels and gauze make up only 9% of vaginal and 11% of abdominal hysterectomy municipal solid waste by weight, but the production of these cotton materials accounts for 55-90% of the total environmental impacts of vaginal and abdominal hysterectomies in nearly all categories analyzed.  A Monte Carlo assessment of the hysterectomy LCA showed ranges of environmental impacts based on variability of OR procedures and uncertainty in impact assessment methods.

Associated Publications

Thiel, C.L., Woods, N., Landis, A.E., Eckelman, M.E., Guido, R., Sherman, J., Bilec, M.M. (2015).“Environmental Impacts of Surgical Procedures: Life Cycle Assessment of Hysterectomy in the US.” Environmental Science & Technology, 49(3) 1779-1786. DOI:10.1021/es504719g

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