Do single-use medical devices containing biopolymers reduce the environmental impacts of surgical procedures compared with their plastic equivalents?

Scott R. Unger, Troy A. Hottle, Shakira R. Hobbs, Cassandra Lee Thiel, Nicole Campion, Melissa M. Bilec, Amy E. Landis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: While petroleum-based plastics are extensively used in health care, recent developments in biopolymer manufacturing have created new opportunities for increased integration of biopolymers into medical products, devices and services. This study compared the environmental impacts of single-use disposable devices with increased biopolymer content versus typically manufactured devices in hysterectomy. Methods: A comparative life cycle assessment of single-use disposable medical products containing plastic(s) versus the same single-use medical devices with biopolymers substituted for plastic(s) at Magee-Women’s Hospital (Magee) in Pittsburgh, PA and the products used in four types of hysterectomies that contained plastics potentially suitable for biopolymer substitution. Magee is a 360-bed teaching hospital, which performs approximately 1400 hysterectomies annually. Results: There are life cycle environmental impact tradeoffs when substituting biopolymers for petroplastics in procedures such as hysterectomies. The substitution of biopolymers for petroleum-based plastics increased smog-related impacts by approximately 900% for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies, and increased ozone depletion-related impacts by approximately 125% for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies. Conversely, biopolymers reduced life cycle human health impacts, acidification and cumulative energy demand for the four hysterectomy procedures. The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects. However, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts of products and devices made using biopolymers. Conclusions: The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects; however, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-225
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Health Services Research and Policy
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2017

Fingerprint

Biopolymers
Plastics
Equipment and Supplies
Hysterectomy
Life Cycle Stages
Petroleum
Robotics
Smog
Ozone Depletion
Teaching Hospitals

Keywords

  • Bioplastics
  • Hysterectomies
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Cite this

Do single-use medical devices containing biopolymers reduce the environmental impacts of surgical procedures compared with their plastic equivalents? / Unger, Scott R.; Hottle, Troy A.; Hobbs, Shakira R.; Thiel, Cassandra Lee; Campion, Nicole; Bilec, Melissa M.; Landis, Amy E.

In: Journal of Health Services Research and Policy, Vol. 22, No. 4, 01.10.2017, p. 218-225.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Unger, Scott R. ; Hottle, Troy A. ; Hobbs, Shakira R. ; Thiel, Cassandra Lee ; Campion, Nicole ; Bilec, Melissa M. ; Landis, Amy E. / Do single-use medical devices containing biopolymers reduce the environmental impacts of surgical procedures compared with their plastic equivalents?. In: Journal of Health Services Research and Policy. 2017 ; Vol. 22, No. 4. pp. 218-225.
@article{f53fc4832d1542349ee4e9472ac48ea9,
title = "Do single-use medical devices containing biopolymers reduce the environmental impacts of surgical procedures compared with their plastic equivalents?",
abstract = "Background: While petroleum-based plastics are extensively used in health care, recent developments in biopolymer manufacturing have created new opportunities for increased integration of biopolymers into medical products, devices and services. This study compared the environmental impacts of single-use disposable devices with increased biopolymer content versus typically manufactured devices in hysterectomy. Methods: A comparative life cycle assessment of single-use disposable medical products containing plastic(s) versus the same single-use medical devices with biopolymers substituted for plastic(s) at Magee-Women’s Hospital (Magee) in Pittsburgh, PA and the products used in four types of hysterectomies that contained plastics potentially suitable for biopolymer substitution. Magee is a 360-bed teaching hospital, which performs approximately 1400 hysterectomies annually. Results: There are life cycle environmental impact tradeoffs when substituting biopolymers for petroplastics in procedures such as hysterectomies. The substitution of biopolymers for petroleum-based plastics increased smog-related impacts by approximately 900{\%} for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies, and increased ozone depletion-related impacts by approximately 125{\%} for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies. Conversely, biopolymers reduced life cycle human health impacts, acidification and cumulative energy demand for the four hysterectomy procedures. The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects. However, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts of products and devices made using biopolymers. Conclusions: The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects; however, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts.",
keywords = "Bioplastics, Hysterectomies, Life cycle assessment, Sustainability",
author = "Unger, {Scott R.} and Hottle, {Troy A.} and Hobbs, {Shakira R.} and Thiel, {Cassandra Lee} and Nicole Campion and Bilec, {Melissa M.} and Landis, {Amy E.}",
year = "2017",
month = "10",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1177/1355819617705683",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "22",
pages = "218--225",
journal = "Journal of Health Services Research and Policy",
issn = "1355-8196",
publisher = "SAGE Publications Ltd",
number = "4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Do single-use medical devices containing biopolymers reduce the environmental impacts of surgical procedures compared with their plastic equivalents?

AU - Unger, Scott R.

AU - Hottle, Troy A.

AU - Hobbs, Shakira R.

AU - Thiel, Cassandra Lee

AU - Campion, Nicole

AU - Bilec, Melissa M.

AU - Landis, Amy E.

PY - 2017/10/1

Y1 - 2017/10/1

N2 - Background: While petroleum-based plastics are extensively used in health care, recent developments in biopolymer manufacturing have created new opportunities for increased integration of biopolymers into medical products, devices and services. This study compared the environmental impacts of single-use disposable devices with increased biopolymer content versus typically manufactured devices in hysterectomy. Methods: A comparative life cycle assessment of single-use disposable medical products containing plastic(s) versus the same single-use medical devices with biopolymers substituted for plastic(s) at Magee-Women’s Hospital (Magee) in Pittsburgh, PA and the products used in four types of hysterectomies that contained plastics potentially suitable for biopolymer substitution. Magee is a 360-bed teaching hospital, which performs approximately 1400 hysterectomies annually. Results: There are life cycle environmental impact tradeoffs when substituting biopolymers for petroplastics in procedures such as hysterectomies. The substitution of biopolymers for petroleum-based plastics increased smog-related impacts by approximately 900% for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies, and increased ozone depletion-related impacts by approximately 125% for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies. Conversely, biopolymers reduced life cycle human health impacts, acidification and cumulative energy demand for the four hysterectomy procedures. The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects. However, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts of products and devices made using biopolymers. Conclusions: The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects; however, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts.

AB - Background: While petroleum-based plastics are extensively used in health care, recent developments in biopolymer manufacturing have created new opportunities for increased integration of biopolymers into medical products, devices and services. This study compared the environmental impacts of single-use disposable devices with increased biopolymer content versus typically manufactured devices in hysterectomy. Methods: A comparative life cycle assessment of single-use disposable medical products containing plastic(s) versus the same single-use medical devices with biopolymers substituted for plastic(s) at Magee-Women’s Hospital (Magee) in Pittsburgh, PA and the products used in four types of hysterectomies that contained plastics potentially suitable for biopolymer substitution. Magee is a 360-bed teaching hospital, which performs approximately 1400 hysterectomies annually. Results: There are life cycle environmental impact tradeoffs when substituting biopolymers for petroplastics in procedures such as hysterectomies. The substitution of biopolymers for petroleum-based plastics increased smog-related impacts by approximately 900% for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies, and increased ozone depletion-related impacts by approximately 125% for laparoscopic and robotic hysterectomies. Conversely, biopolymers reduced life cycle human health impacts, acidification and cumulative energy demand for the four hysterectomy procedures. The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects. However, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts of products and devices made using biopolymers. Conclusions: The integration of biopolymers into medical products is correlated with reductions in carcinogenic impacts, non-carcinogenic impacts and respiratory effects; however, the significant agricultural inputs associated with manufacturing biopolymers exacerbate environmental impacts.

KW - Bioplastics

KW - Hysterectomies

KW - Life cycle assessment

KW - Sustainability

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85037033841&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85037033841&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1177/1355819617705683

DO - 10.1177/1355819617705683

M3 - Article

VL - 22

SP - 218

EP - 225

JO - Journal of Health Services Research and Policy

JF - Journal of Health Services Research and Policy

SN - 1355-8196

IS - 4

ER -