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4 Misconceptions about the Environmental Impact of Single-use Bronchoscopes

With over 5 million tons of medical waste being disposed of annually1, we’re very aware of the impact single-use medical devices can have on our environment. But did you know there is more to the story? Below are 4 misconceptions about the potential environmental impact of single-use bronchoscopes.

Misconception #1:  Single-use bronchoscopes create greater landfill waste than reusable bronchoscopes.

The waste generated from reprocessing endoscopes is often overlooked, as reprocessing usually occurs in a separate department.  One study showed that 337 grams of PPE2 can end up in the trash after reprocessing one endoscope. Although that number can be cut down by reprocessing more than one scope at a time, it doesn’t account for the chemicals, additional equipment, or staff time that is also required for reprocessing. Furthermore, costs associated with treating infections from inadequately processed bronchoscopes3 can also add to the environmental impact of using reusable bronchoscopes. 

Misconception #2:  All single-use scopes contribute the same amount of waste to landfills.

The BFlex™ bronchoscope was designed with the environment in mind by making the cable reusable, and by using minimal packaging.  Most single-use bronchoscopes include a disposable cable, which can add up to 83% more waste4 that can end up in landfills. 

Misconception #3:  Single-use bronchoscopes can’t be recycled.

Many single-use medical devices are composed of hard-to-recycle plastics. Because of this, finding recycling solutions can be problematic. That’s why Verathon has partnered with Sharps Compliance’s TakeAway Recycle System. Their process uses plastics as a fuel source for generating electricity, in a process known as waste-to-energy conversion. By keeping single-use devices out of the landfill, you can provide the best of both worlds to your patients – reducing cross-contamination while creating less waste for our planet.  Learn more about the program here.  

Misconception #4:  Two separate systems must be purchased and maintained for bronchoscopy and video laryngoscopy.

By combining bronchoscopy and video laryngoscopy in one system, the Total Airway Solution by Verathon offers two systems in one, which means fewer systems to purchase, maintain, and dispose of at end-of-life, resulting in a lower impact to the environment.  

To learn more about Verathon’s wide range of single-use medical devices, request a quote or demo here.

 

 

1.    https://practicegreenhealth.org/topics/waste/waste-0
2.    Sørensen, B. L., Grüttner H. 2018. “Comparative Study on Environmental Impacts of Reusable and Single-Use Bronchoscopes”. AJEP, 2018; 7(4) 55-62. http://www.sciencepublishinggroup.com/journal/paperinfojournalid=163&doi=10.11648/j.ajep.20180704.11 
3.    Terjesen, C.L., et al. “Early Assessment of the Likely Cost Effectiveness of Single-Use Flexible Video Bronchoscopes.” PharmacoEconomics (2017). 1:133-141.
4.    Data on file per DR-TRM-0154 / REV-00. Comparison of packaged weight of 3 single-use scope models. 

 

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