Weighing Up the Cost of Medical Waste Disposal

12 January 2011 East Kent Hospital Trust is hoping to save up to £100,000 per year on its clinical waste disposal costs through the use of an Avery Weigh-Tronix weighing system The cost of clinical waste disposal for the East Kent Hospital Trust is between £335 and £700 per tonne depending on its exact classification. The cost of general waste disposal is about £100 per tonne. It is estimated that 40% of the clinical waste disposed of by hospitals should actually be in the general waste. "Although clinical waste is about one third of our total volume, it accounts for two thirds of our waste disposal budget, so it is an obvious area where we can make efficiency savings," said Dan Gurney, facilities business manager for the Trust: In response, the trust has installed three floor mounted scale stations, one at each of its three hospitals' waste collection sites. Each scale has an E1210 indicator controlling the scale and links to a central network on which Avery Weigh-Tronix has installed its M725 Data Power management software. When waste is disposed the system prompts an operator for their identification, the department or source of waste, the type of waste and the bin or trolley identity. The hospital's head office can then monitor and report on the data to track trends and identify areas for improvement. Reports can show individual waste streams by cost, location and department. This information is vital in this efficiency drive as it can be used to cross check the charges made by the waste disposal contractors, and pinpoint any areas that require further investigation. The system is claimed to help the trust target action where it is needed. For example, it may need to emphasis the importance of proper waste disposal in a department through an educational campaign. Sometimes there is a good reason for producing extra waste. It may be that a department is dealing with more patients. If this is the case, then extra funding can be applied for to dispose of any additional clinical waste. "It is only by having such an accurate reporting system that we can make informed choices and become more efficient. Making savings will divert funds to frontline medical care, which supports the aim of the government's White Paper." Gurney concluded.