Earth Day gives ODs a chance to promote green patient habits
One by One encourages recycle efforts
Another medical waste we incur daily is generated by our contact lens practices. This is in the shape of the boxes, blister packs, and the contact lenses themselves.
Related: It’s not easy seeing green
Bausch + Lomb (B+L) has launched the One by One recycling program. Partnering with TerraCycle, B+L is taking a nationwide effort to reduce and reuse by encouraging the recycling of contact lens packaging waste.
In our practice, we have One by One recycling bins in each exam room, and we educate patients to bring in their contact lens waste to recycle (Figure 2).
Patient-generated medical waste
As ODs, we are recommending both prescription and over-the-counter eye drops for our patients to use daily—many times several times a day. The packaging, vials
, and bottles also contributes to UMW.
Let's take a closer look at a chronic dry eye patient using a topical therapy to manage his disease.
I have calculated that both Restasis (cyclosporine, Allergan) and Xiidra (lifitegrast, Shire) users’ annual waste is around 720 vials per year, 1,440 vials over two years, and 3,600 for five years of treatment. We are seeing similar numbers with daily contact lens-wearing patients as well.
With the recent introduction of Restasis MultiDose (cyclosporine, Allergan), we can help reduce patient waste. Allergan continued its preservative-free composition of Restasis using new technology to prevent contamination of both the eye drop bottle and remaining eye drops.
Related: The poor man’s red/green test
It takes a team effort
The end products are not only environmentally friendly but a great change for patients struggling to use the vials due to conditions like neuropathy and arthritis.
It is great to see major players in the industry making a concerted effort to reduce the environmental impact of their products—but it takes more than that.
It starts at the top with ODs leading by example. Communicate to office managers and front-line staff to do their part in reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Share these ideas and concepts at your staff meetings this month. Help inspire the team to give ideas on what you can do better at your practice. Some great policies and concepts are often introduced when the staff is empowered to find solutions to seemingly simple, but important challenges.
There’s no challenge more important than saving our planet!
1. Airlina I. Medical Waste Disposal – The Definitive Guide. BioMedical Waste Solutions. Available at: http://www.biomedicalwastesolutions.com/medical-waste-disposal/. Accessed 4/18/17.