Kaiser Health News
It’s long been a problem for the nation’s hospitals: A staggering number of medical supplies — from surgical gloves to sponges to medications — go unused and are discarded after surgeries.
A recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco has put a price tag on that waste: almost $1,000 per procedure examined at the academic medical center.
The research, published in May in the Journal of Neurosurgery, examined 58 neurosurgeries performed by 14 different surgeons at UCSF Medical Center, a leading academic hospital.
James Yoon, one of the principal UCSF researchers on the study, said they weren’t only looking at costs but also at the environmental impact of wasted supplies.
Operating rooms in the U.S. produce more than 2,000 tons of waste per day, he said. Some of it is biological and must be safely disposed of. Part of the research involved identifying which surgeries generated the most waste. Spinal procedures, for example, are among the most wasteful, the researchers found.
They also learned that the length of a surgeon’s experience bore no relation to the volume of squandered supplies. More experienced surgeons were not necessarily more frugal. [Read more…]