All of us are members of the same community of responsible individuals who understand that ecological support systems are vital to our societal relationships. Our personnel are committed to the longevity of natural ecosystems and therefore we encourage and sponsor an eco-friendly office. Dr. Fisher and his entire organization support active participation in a sustainable environment. He welcomes your involvement and contribution toward our future.
As physicians and leaders in our communities, we must set an example. Among many other things, we are preparing an announcement for the waiting room that will alert all our patients of our desire to participate in eco-friendly behaviors and encourage them to do the same. We have begun to utilize environmentally protected products for supplies. This participation is an ongoing and committed endeavor to change the way we as a society communicate and act about vitally important societal matters.
The subject of sustainability and environmental responsibility is particularly challenging in the medical and surgical fields. The entire concept of product sustainability is an evolving one and producers of "material" have not specifically caught up with environmental issues in our profession. High degrees of regulation and chemical specificity in order to ensure safety and sterility often compete with biodegradability.
Much of our ability as practicing physicians to reduce biohazard exposure and go medically green depends in a large part on the companies that research and manufacture our products. Medical waste is also a regulated specialty, as liposuction-ed fat must be disposed of properly and medications that are “wasted” (the term for excess medicated solution) must be disposed of properly.
How we can make a difference
One way individual practices might make a difference is to participate in local medical centers that have set recovery programs of usable surplus medical supplies and distribute them to areas of need overseas. This concept was originated at Yale University and several health centers around the country are beginning to offer programs modeled after the Yale concept.
Using the concepts developed by these programs, thousands of dollars worth of usable medical surplus have been distributed to a variety of countries including Sri Lanka, Haiti, Cuba, Liberia, Thailand, Vietnam, Kenya, and Nicaragua. The program can be run by volunteers and thus would receive no financial profit from its activities.
Much of the world’s population does not have access to quality medical care. Shortages of basic medical supplies and equipment lead to needless suffering and deaths in these underserved areas.
Meanwhile, hospitals and clinics throughout the US generate large surpluses of a variety of usable medical supplies and equipment. Due to the strict regulatory standards and liability concerns, it is impossible to recover and redistribute these items within the US health care system.
Such a program avoids a lot of waste while at the same time providing a good community service. It saves lives while offering a cost-saving, charitable alternative to medical surplus disposal and storage. The program reduces waste while improving health care for severely under served populations.