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Hospital Waste is Causing Rising Healthcare Cost

Updated on April 5, 2014

Why does healthcare cost so much?

Have you ever gotten a hospital bill and found charges on your bill for three or four blood pressure cuffs (for example)? That is because hospitals that use disposable cuffs have to charge the patient for each one that they pull from the supply closet.

Your scratching your head on this one and think what is the difference it's only a blood pressure cuff? Well those four blood pressure cuffs cost about $13.00 a piece. Now times that by many of thousands of patients that visit hospitals each year.

You got one in the emergency room. When you came to the floor, instead of the tech looking on your arm, she grabbed another one. If you went to surgery the staff there pull out another one and guess who is paying for it? YOU.

What are some of the other things that are being wasted. How many basins and bed pans do you think you get on one stay? About 5 or 6. Butterfly needles that are over 2.50 each, if left in the room, even if they are packaged tight, will be thrown away when you leave.

Bandages are one of the biggest waste that any nurse or doctor could get for a patient. If a patient has a wound, the nurse brings bandages in every time she has to change it. But she never looked to see the other thousand bandages that were on the dresser that another thousand nurses brought in with them.

I have worked in healthcare for over 30 years and the amount of waste that goes on is sobering.

Each department in the hospital is given a budget but the billing comes down to your stay.

Anything left in the patients room after discharge is thrown out no matter if it is sealed up or not. Even laundry, which is washed and charged by the pound, is a waste. Do you know how many wash clothes, towels, sheets and blankets that have never been used, make it to the laundry after the patient leaves, still folded.

How many times have you seen your medication go on the floor? You can best believe you are being charged for two. One Tylenol in the hospital can go for 40.00 dollars. Yes we could buy the whole world Tylenol with that amount of money but this is where they are hitting your pockets and insurance companies pockets hard.

This is where your money is going

Although some things end up being recycled the majority end up in land fills.
Although some things end up being recycled the majority end up in land fills.

What are we doing about it?

For sixty years, Waste Management, has been providing removal of bio hazard materials and either recycling the plastics, such as bags that medication has been in, as well as needles.

But is only taking care of the recycled things enough? No. We have to start thinking with numbers in our minds in order for this wasteful medical society to stop throwing away dollars.

They need to be held accountable for the outrageous amounts of medical supplies that are being thrown away.

Some type of organization needs to get involved whether it be Joint Commission or ACHA and get hospitals and doctors offices to stop abusing products. This is one reason why there are more patients to each nurse because the more then a quarter is spent on supplies. So patients have to suffer because of employees waste.

Do you think hospitals should be monitored for waste?

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What about the food?

On any given day, at the hospital I work at, about 75% of the patients complain about the food. So what is done? Nothing. The trays are sent back to the kitchen, untouched and thrown in the garbage. Even milk that has never been opened. Why? Because anything that comes out of a patients room is considered dirty.

If they want to throw the stuff away, put it outside for the stray cat's to eat. I am sure they would love the carrots and broccoli that are served 7 days a week. NOT!

I would think that things that were returned, that someone would take note to not send that patient that particular dish anymore. Even if the patients call the kitchen and complain, they will still be given the same thing over and over again. Thus goes the irate patient.

They already complain about things so let's make it easier by serving them crappy food.

Before disposable supplies were made

How about that old 1 and 1/2 inch needle that had to be sterilized and used on another patient? IV" then were glass bottles not plastic bags. Mercury thermometers that are said to be very bad for you now if you get near the mercury, but I can assure you I have in my life time rolled around a few balls of mercury from a broken thermometer. Ladies how about those cold forceps that were used to check your cervix.

Although those things seem like yesterdays news and for us to march to the future, they were all recycled, cleaned, sterilized and used over again.

The Bed Pan is Calling

I like people to know how ancient I am, as I started my career in healthcare using hard, steel bed pans. I was working in a nursing home then. Every Friday night we would collect them, all 180 of them and take them to the dirty utility room, put them in a bed pan washer that washed and sterilized them and then we gave them back to the patients.

Is your hospital clean?

Healthcare cost from the 1900's to today

Healthcare cost have more then tripled in a century
Healthcare cost have more then tripled in a century

What can we do to help?

If you are ever a patient in the hospital and you notice everyone that is coming in your room is leaving things, then speak up. It's your insurance and you getting the bill after you leave. This is why insurance companies are not paying for certain things because they know of the waste that goes on and you can't blame them for not wanting to pay for 5 bed pans for one person.

Unless you have a contagious disease, which would be more of a reason not to bring extra things in your room, you should always speak up about supplies that are being used. Tell them I said so. I don't care if you get me in trouble. I see it every day.

You opinion counts.

Everyday from paper to bandages, hospitals are rising healthcare cost by valuable things being thrown in the garbage and no one is listening.

You never see a recycle bin for bottles and plastics. Day after day things that could be recycled are ending up in our waste piles.

Do your part and speak up. Even if you have a family member in the hospital speak up. It's our voices that get things done. Remember the squeaky wheel gets heard.


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