Gransnet forums


What a Waste

(16 Posts)
pompa Wed 19-Oct-11 13:48:13

Today I had six stitches removed from my hand. At the end of the procedure the nurse was about to throw all the instrument used in the bin shock. When I queried this she informed me that all the surgical instruments used are now single use. These are high quality stainless steel instruments, what a tragic waste, I did manage to save the tweezers she used from the bin, but she only allowed that because the had my blood on them. Even if they could not be re-used for surgery, they should be re-cycled as they are made from high quality steel.

Notsogrand Wed 19-Oct-11 14:18:33

What about sterilisers? I understand single use needles, but stainless steel instruments? That's crazy.
I guess the staff time etc needed for sterilising and re-use is not cost effective, but as you say pompa, they could be re-cycled.

susiecb Wed 19-Oct-11 14:34:40

Unfortunately CJD and other prions (very very small microorganisms) are resistant to heat sterilisation and gamma radiation is not an option in general hospitals. I speak as an ex Infection Control Nurse. It does seem wasteful but I have nursed a 17 year old dying of CJD. The plastic forceps etc are very cheap indeed.

Notsogrand Wed 19-Oct-11 15:05:49

Oh susie, how unbearably sad. A waste of steel is nothing, compared to the waste of a life. sad

bagitha Wed 19-Oct-11 15:08:54

Quick google revealed this, among others:

So it looks as though the recycling option is viable but needs the will behind it. Clearly producers but also users need to change the way they think. It is sad that recycling – and how to achieve it – is not 'built into' more businesses but while ever it is cheaper not to recycle than it is to recycle it won't happen.

The whole chuck away approach does seem to suggest that there has not yet been a shortage of the required raw materials – in this case steel. That would encourage more recycling as well.

pompa Wed 19-Oct-11 15:34:07

These were not plastic instrument, high quality stainless steel tweezers, forceps and scalpel handles. I could understand plastic. I am sure that the heat required to re-cycle steel 1400-1450 c would kill anything. Stainless steels contain valuable constituents, chromium and nickel at the very least.

Sbagran Wed 19-Oct-11 18:01:59

Having worked in the NHS how I agree with you Pompa.
OK the instruments may not be safe enough for surgery but surely they could be used in other trades where sterility is not essential such as arts and crafts or making jewellery?
Failing that surely the metal could be melted down and made into something else?
Sadly we live in a very disposable society in so many ways - babies are disposable through abortion, street children are disposable as they are shot if they get in the way, and who nowadays uses those beautiful soft white terry nappies like the ones that used to hang so proudly on my washing line many years ago!
No doubt the 'waste of energy needed in the washing' argument will be used to refute that.
Oh whoops - I feel I may opened a can of worms here???
There is an answer for everything these days isn't there!

nanny1 Wed 19-Oct-11 18:29:58

I work for the NHS and have done on and off for several years. The most appalling waste I see is that of paper. I have never worked anywhere else that generates so many lists and reports and manuals....

I often wonder how many of these are necessary?

Notsogrand Wed 19-Oct-11 18:35:48

When I worked for local government and queried the amount of paper generated, I was told by a senior manager, 'Hundreds of reams of A4 paper will be filled with information that no-body reads. Until something goes wrong'

yogagran Wed 19-Oct-11 21:52:18

I'm really shocked and surprised that stainless steel instruments are "disposable". That's an appalling waste. Can anything be done?

Hunt Thu 20-Oct-11 09:40:34

There is a paper waste in hospitals that always amazes me. Have you watched a hospital employee wash their hands? They grab a handful of paper towels to dry their hands when the job can be done perfectly well with a maximum of two . Add that up over the years and a phenomenal amount of money could be saved. Look after the pennies............!

susiecb Thu 20-Oct-11 09:50:58

I am surprised that they werent using plastic forceps and a stitch cutter (single blade) these cheaper packs are available and jsut as effective. This does seem rather wasteful but I say again heat sterilisation does NOT get rid of everything prions are immune to it.

harrigran Thu 20-Oct-11 11:29:36

I agree susiecb sterilisation does not get rid of everything. If this were not Britain these instruments would end up on rubbish tips, scavenged and probably reintroduced into the system.
Disposable stitch cutters have been used for many years and they are perfectly adequate as are plastic forceps.
The NHS is not sustainable at this level of waste, no prizes for guessing who will suffer.

goldengirl Thu 20-Oct-11 15:39:13

I recently discovered that our council does not provide separate bins for recycling business waste as it does for domestic waste. It's all bunged into one container. On the other side of the road residential owners have to separate their waste into the appropriate bins! How bizarre is that! In my company we pay to take recyclable waste away - packaging mainly and take smaller recyclables to a 'scrap store' which sells them for craft work and the like. It makes a mockery of this recycling lark hmm

dorsetpennt Fri 21-Oct-11 09:24:45

We used to have the Central Sterilisation Department when I was a nurse and all steel instruments went there to be sterilised to great satisfaction. However, we didn't have CJD then or MSRA - these due to some extent to poor cleaning methods within hospitals. Though this seems to be a huge waste of depleting resources, could these used steel instruments not be put to other uses.

JessM Sat 22-Oct-11 02:33:25

Hi Pompa.
Hope you are doing ok there and continuing to enjoy the forum.
It has to be said that the people who make these disposables must be very very happy about the single use policy.
You would think that maybe some entrepreneurial person could collect them and use a suitable method of sterilisation so that they could be rendered safe to reuse in some way. Might make commercial sense if it a whole system was set up involving collection. There is surely a temperature at which an organic molecule such as a prion decomposes that is way below the melting point of steel?