January 9th, 2020 , Journal of Hand Surgery (American Volume)

Environmentally Responsible Hand Surgery: Past, Present, and Future

Authors: Bravo D, Gaston RG, Melamed E.


Health care is an important contributor to environmental waste. In 2013, the health care sector was responsible for substantial fractions of national air pollution emissions and impacts, including acid rain (12%), greenhouse gas emissions (10%), smog formation (10%), air pollutants (9%), stratospheric ozone depletion (1%), and carcinogenic and noncarcinogenic air toxins (1% to 2%). Operating rooms produce between 20% and 70% of total hospital waste. Hand surgery, with short, high-volume cases, is a notable contributor to this environmental and subsequent financial burden. This article aims to highlight the Lean and Green initiative proposed by the American Association for Hand Surgery along with the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, the American Society for Peripheral Nerve Surgery, and the American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery in 2015, to reduce the amount of waste generated by hand surgery. We have reviewed the literature to propose multiple ways to reduce both material and nonmaterial waste-energy consumption, sterilization techniques, reprocessing of devices, patient transportation, production of surgical supply, anesthesia, and sanitation in hand surgery.

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