Diversion of medical waste items to re-use

The composition of mixed clinical waste is highly variable and separaton of individual items for re-use is not practicable without source separation. Though downstream separation of plastics, rubber (latex) and metals is feasible source separation if required for single use surgical instruments.

From the operating theatre, minor ops facility and GP surgery, and from A&E, there are many dressing packs and other items opened for use which are then discarded without actually being used. Perfectly good condition, but witha broken seal and obvious loss of sterility these are unsuitable for re-use in clinical practice and are generally discarded without further consideration.

Now a US physician Danielle Duchini, a breast surgery oncologist at the Center for Breast Health in Erie, has found a way to cut medical waste and help animals in the process. Duchini and her hospital are donating opened dressing packs to those who can still use them and have started Cause for Paws. Elastic bandages, unused syringes and needles, sutures, laparoscopic pads, gauze, surgical drapes, and bandage wrappings find new use in the treatment of pets as well as animals at the Erie Zoo.


And for those in the UK with unwanted pharmaceuticals, InterCare collects surplus medicines from GP surgeries, checks and sorts them, then donates these life-saving drugs to hospitals and other healthcare units in rural sub-Saharan Africa. They also collect and ship small medical and surgical equipment items, and dressings of all kind. Further details here.


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