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    Earth Day gives ODs a chance to promote green patient habits

    The views expressed here belong to the author. They do not necessarily represent the views of Optometry Times or UBM Medica.

    With the 47th observance of Earth Day taking place April 22, it is interesting to look back on how the day has evolved from a smallish movement aimed at raising environmental awareness to a worldwide celebratory effort to save our planet. 

    From changing habits at home or in the workplace, we can all do our part to reduce the negative impact we have on the environment. 

    Medical waste

    Medical waste is any waste generated at healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, physicians’ offices, dental practices, blood banks, as well as medical research facilities, laboratories, and optometry offices. The disposal of this waste is regulated by state environmental and health departments.

    Previously from Dr. O'Dell: 6 challenges when changing from a group to private practice

    This waste is classified as regulated medical waste (RMW) and unrelated medical waste (UMW).

    RMW accounts for 10 to 25 percent1 of the total medical waste annually. Also known as “biohazardous” waste or “infectious medical” waste, RMW is the portion of the waste stream that may be contaminated by blood, bodily fluids, or other potentially infectious materials—posing a significant risk of transmitting infection.

    UMW accounts for 75 to 90 percent1 of medical waste annually. This waste is similar to typical household waste consisting of papers and plastics that have not been in contact with patients—and is categorized as non-infectious.

    Here’s how the industry is helping to reduce our medical waste both in our practices and in our patients’ homes.

    Related: How you can go green in the optometry practice

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    Leslie E O’Dell, OD, FAAO
    Leslie E. O’Dell, OD, FAAO, is the director of the Dry Eye Treatment Center at May Eye Care Center in Hanover, PA. Dr. O’Dell lectures ...

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