New Tool to Assess Environmental Attributes of Medical Products Could Drive Marketplace Toward Safer Chemicals, Help Efforts on TSCA Reform
Health Advocacy Group Praises Group Purchasing Organizations, Practice Greenhealth for Efforts to Green $135 B in Hospital Purchasing
RESTON, Va., Oct. 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) congratulates Practice Greenhealth and supporting health care sector Group Purchasing Organizations on the release of the Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products, a tool to help hospitals identify, request and procure environmentally preferable medical products. The tool includes questions about chemicals of concern, recyclability and other environmental attributes.
The tool is intended to serve as a template with a common set of standardized questions on key environmentally preferable attributes of medical products that can be used by all stakeholders. Stakeholders that are likely to find the tool helpful include GPOs and healthcare purchasers, as well as manufacturers and suppliers.
The GPOs involved include Amerinet, Inc.; HealthTrust Purchasing Group; MedAssets, Inc.; Novation LLC; and Premier, Inc. These organizations collectively represent over $135 billion in annual purchasing volume.
“The fact these leading GPOs have helped develop this tool and will be using it is highly significant, as their purchasing power is enough to help shift the entire health sector marketplace toward more sustainable products,” stated Gary Cohen, president and founder of Health Care Without Harm “This new tool is also significant in that it now sends a clear signal to suppliers that hospitals are looking for safer chemicals and greener products.”
This tool is part of Practice Greenhealth’s Greening the Supply Chain(TM) Initiative, which was launched earlier this year in order to provide a common set of tools for purchasers, suppliers and manufacturers to encourage the supply chain to provide environmentally preferable products that are cost competitive, and of comparable or superior quality to products already in use.
“Catholic Healthcare West welcomes this effort to make information about products made with safer chemicals and greater sustainability more widely available to hospitals,” said Susan Vickers, RSM Vice-President, Community Health, Catholic Healthcare West. “The search for alternative products is often difficult, because of limited supply and little knowledge about product makeup. If manufacturers now know they will be asked about product sustainability, we feel they will become better informed and more responsive to hospitals and systems like ours, that request safer, more sustainable products.”
The failure of our nation’s major industrial chemical law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), to provide adequate information about chemicals of concern in consumer products has led sectors like health care to develop their own initiatives. TSCA does not give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency adequate power to identify and regulate dangerous chemicals, leaving businesses on their own to manage this problem. Legislation proposed in this Congress, the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011, would remedy this situation by regulating the safety of chemicals used in consumer products, increasing public information on chemicals and their health impacts, and supporting businesses that are innovating and voluntarily using safer chemicals. While the FDA has regulatory authority over medical devices, many products used in health care contain chemicals that would be regulated by the EPA under the Safe Chemicals Act.
“This new tool shows a heightened awareness by the health care sector in the life cycle hazards of products,” said Tracey Easthope, MPH, of Health Care Without Harm. “In the absence of TSCA reform, the health care sector is taking action to move to safer alternatives, whether Congress helps them or not.”
For more information on the Standardized Environmental Questions for Medical Products, see www.practicegreenhealth.org/gsc.
HCWH is an international coalition of more than 508 organizations in 53 countries, working to transform the health care industry worldwide, without compromising patient safety or care, so that it is ecologically sustainable and no longer a source of harm to public health and the environment. For more information on HCWH, see www.noharm.org
SOURCE Health Care Without Harm