Making our Health Care Environments Healthier

January 20, 2012

We talk a lot about healthy environments on this blog, and one important aspect of that is the greening of the health care sector.  Looking at the connection between environmental health and public health can lead hospitals and health care organizations to move toward green purchasing practices and more sustainable energy solutions.  In 2010, Kaiser Permanente launched its Sustainability Scorecard – the first of its kind in health care and a model for green purchasing in the sector.  The scorecard evaluates the health and environmental impacts of each medical item the organization purchases; it also encourages vendors and suppliers across the United States to provide greener products, and it requires them to provide information on their own company’s environmental commitment – including package recycling and the use of potentially harmful chemicals in their products (or the making and disposal of them).

This week, Kaiser Permanente took another step in its green efforts by converting its intravenous (IV) medical equipment, including IV solution bags and IV tubing, to more eco-friendly alternatives that are free of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and DEHP (Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate), two chemicals used in plastics that have been shown to harm human and environmental health. Kaiser Permanente purchases 4.9 million IV tubing sets and 9.2 million solution bags per year. This single step affects nearly 100 tons of medical products.  The move also saves the organization close to $5 million a year, proving that going green can have a positive effect on health care costs.

Learn more in the video below.

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