An Analysis of the Feasibility of Circular Economies as a Method of Reducing Waste from Hospital Operating Rooms
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Operating room (OR) waste accounts for a large proportion of total hospital waste. Current consumption, use and disposal techniques are highly standardized and regulated. This thesis investigates the possibility of reuse and recycling as feasible methods of reducing OR waste without negatively affecting the standard and quality of care. Data was collected from interviews with healthcare providers (HCPs) and through observational analysis in the OR at Kingston General Hospital. The data was used to identify the barriers preventing a classical or typical response to the waste hierarchy, a tool used for assessing waste management solutions. Analysis revealed that infection control is the most pressing issue, which restricts the amount of recycling and reuse initiatives that can be implemented. Additional factors identified include cost reduction, reliability, and administrative structures. Most healthcare professionals working in ORs are aware that surgeries create a large volume of waste; however, waste remains a low-priority issue. Results demonstrate that hospitals are an institution where responses to the waste hierarchy are restricted to reuse and disposal methods. Additional expansions to reuse or recycling, while possible, are limited in their magnitude and may result in adverse effects and increased risks to patients.