Reducing medical waste

AORN J. 2010 Jun;91(6):711-21. doi: 10.1016/j.aorn.2009.12.029.


Medical waste is a necessary by-product of any hospital environment; however, the majority of regulated medical waste is produced in the OR from the use of disposable surgical supplies (eg, drapes, gowns, basins, gloves, sponges). We conducted a concept comparison project in the ORs of two large medical centers in Bethesda, Maryland, and Washington, DC, to evaluate the effects of using reusable surgical basins, gowns, and table and Mayo stand covers in place of disposable products. Survey results indicated that surgeons and surgical technologists found the reusable products to be preferable to the disposable products currently in use. In addition, using reusable products provided a means to decrease regulated medical waste generated in the OR by an average of 65% as well as reduce the cost of waste disposal. AORN recommends evaluating the environmental effects of using reusable, reposable, and disposable products; our findings provide evidence that may be useful to surgical facilities that seek to adopt a "green" approach.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Bedding and Linens / statistics & numerical data
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Cost Savings
  • Disposable Equipment* / statistics & numerical data
  • District of Columbia
  • Durable Medical Equipment / statistics & numerical data
  • Equipment Reuse* / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Inventories, Hospital / organization & administration
  • Maryland
  • Medical Waste / prevention & control*
  • Medical Waste / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Operating Room Nursing / organization & administration
  • Operating Rooms / organization & administration*
  • Protective Clothing / supply & distribution
  • Refuse Disposal / methods
  • Refuse Disposal / statistics & numerical data
  • Surgical Equipment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Medical Waste