How Can Nurses Reduce Waste Effectively?

How can nurses reduce waste

Nurses are a crucial part of the healthcare industry. They form 40 percent of the hospital staff. Hence, they can contribute positively to the environment through proper waste and supply management.

Currently, healthcare is adding to pollution with greenhouse gases and other toxic wastes into the environment.

Therefore, nurses can greatly impact the reduction of waste and add positively to the environment. Nurses have a major role in care protocols, decisions to purchase, direct care, and disposal of medical waste.

But how can nurses reduce waste?

How can nurses reduce waste in different sectors?

There are several ways how can nurses reduce waste in different sectors.

Let’s take a closer look up on those.

Energy sources

How can nurses reduce waste via energy sources

Nurses can make use of safer energy sources in their work areas. Solar, wind, and water are some renewable sources of energy that can be implemented at practice sites.

These energy sources create less damage to the environment.

They can encourage minimal use of fossil fuel sources such as natural gas or coal. They can minimize energy usage by cutting down fans, TV, and heat exchange in rooms by proper closure and ventilation, unplugging beds, switching off lights, etc., in empty and unused rooms.

When involved in purchasing, they can promote the purchase of energy-efficient equipment.

Upgrading insulation within the building, draft proofing of doors and windows, setting up automatic doors, having plastic curtains within delivery doors, and setting up double/triple glazed windows of low emission glass are some other recommendations that can be encouraged by nurses or the nursing staff during committee meetings as energy savers.

Generation of waste and potential use of resources

Nurses can make certain products reusable whenever possible. They can segregate waste properly to reduce harmful waste in the environment.

It is essential to treat harmful waste and not to over-treat landfill waste.

This is because it can be expensive and be a source of energy waste. Making use of green cleaners that are certified can aid in non-exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace.

Nurses can encourage the consumption of organic foods. They can encourage the use of DEHP-free clinical plastic.

But how can nurses reduce waste exactly?

Minimizing waste can be done by:

  • Recycling hospital waste wherever possible.
  • Encouraging the use of reusable linen rather than disposable linens.
  • Instructing the supplier to minimize the packaging of supply.
  • Directing only required material in medical incinerators.
  • Purchasing toxic-free healthcare products, e.g.: mercury. It is evident from studies that mercury and its exposure are toxic to humans. So avoiding cleaning products, food, and other products that contain mercury is helpful.

Some other practices that can be taken up by nursing staff to reduce waste are:

  • Develop, handle, and implement a functional system for lowering waste and its management.
  • Communicate, develop, and practice eco-friendly methods to handle waste.
  • Offer staff education and coordination on strategies, action plans, and methods to minimize medical waste. Take up healthy recycling of suitable products to minimize finances.
  • Maintaining consistency in implementing these strategies.
  • Having alternatives to current practices to impact the environment positively without blowing up the finances.
  • Having action plans and goal priorities to understand the environmental performance of the present goals. Then, making variations wherever necessary for betterment.
  • Having safety and health committees to deal with the issues and expanding the objectives in favor of minimizing and managing waste.

Next, we take a closer look at how can nurses reduce supply waste specifically.

How can nurses reduce supply waste?

How can nurses reduce supply waste

Nurses can reduce supply waste released into the environment by the following measures.

Organize the supply room

Prioritize organizing and maintaining the supply room. This will save time as well as money. Implement a system and coordinate with your staff to keep it maintained.

Ensure the supply room is devoid of the expired supply at all times. First, use the medicines that are nearing expiry to avoid supply wastage to a great deal.

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In this way, smaller waste will not add up to create a larger one. Keeping an organized system will ensure the supplies are reached back to where they belong and are not lost/wasted.

The organization should be such that it is accessible to the staff without any lags. The wastage-conscious environment has to be maintained every day.

This organizational method is fast and efficient.

Proactive order of supply

Ordering proactively shall not result in the hoarding of supplies by the staff. Staff may hoard the supply due to a lack of organization.

There can be a misplacement of supply due to a lack of appropriate organization or its maintenance. This can result in not finding the supply as and when required.

Eventually, it results in the proactive ordering of supply which can turn to waste, if not used timely.

List out the regularly used supplies and less used supplies to minimize wastage later. Apart from this, educate the staff about the implications that can result due to hoarding supplies.

This can be done by making the staff clear about the costs and wastes involved in the process. Train the staff and keep following up through positive reinforcement like rewards.

Through communication and awareness, hoarding can be avoided as a big deal.

A data management system-DBMS for expiry and supply management

How can nurses reduce supply waste via data management

Implement a system that maintains data regarding the supply with their expiry dates.

This system can alert you when the expiry date is coming close, provide you with information regarding the date of purchase, and help you identify what supply is going missing.

You can create a warning system on the expiry date of the supply. This system will save you from poor inventory and hoarding management.

Depending on the software features, a precise system for managing supply can be achieved.

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Conclusion: How can nurses reduce waste?

Sustainability and wastage are crucial issues in the healthcare industry currently. Healthcare needs improvement and timely inspections to avoid wastage and help the environment thereby.

Nurses, being a major part of the healthcare facility, can offer a great deal in managing and eliminating wastage.

As mentioned above, nurses should adhere to the much-needed norms to minimize supply and other medical wastage.

This way they can help prevent damage to the environment hugely. By doing so, they are also assisting in increasing the hospital’s efficiency, saving money and time, effectively usage of resources, and contributing to the ecosystem.

As nurses contribute majorly to healthcare, they need to be trained and made aware of waste management and reduction methods to get maximum benefit.

Now you know all about how can nurses reduce waste.

If you want to learn some more nursing-related, check out these articles of ours:

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About Ida Koivisto, BSN, RN, PHN

Ida is both a registered nurse and public health nurse. Her passion is to provide as much valuable information about nursing to the world as possible. In her spare time from work and blogging, Ida loves to work out at the gym and spend time with relatives.