New technology has played an important role in improved patient care and has provided more timely and accurate information allowing healthcare providers to make faster diagnoses and shorten recovery times. As better, more efficient medical devices are employed, old equipment is often discarded without any thought to its impact on the environment or public health.
Millions of electronic devices are produced each year for the healthcare industry. As old equipment is being replaced, hospitals, clinics, laboratories and doctor’s offices are left with more and more electronic waste to deal with. Unfortunately, many of these devices are improperly disposed of, creating a threat to the environment and the public health in general.
Electronic devices in healthcare facilities include EKG monitors, lab analyzers, testing equipment and sphygmomanometers along with computers, monitors and televisions. Many of these devices contain heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury and lead. When this equipment ends up in landfills, these hazardous materials can seep into our lakes, rivers and ultimately the drinking water supply. Ironically, the machines designed to improve healthcare are actually causing an even bigger public health problem when they are not properly recycled.
An estimated 70% of heavy metals found in landfills come from improperly discarded electronic equipment. With less than 10% of discarded computers and electronics being recycled properly, electronic waste, or “e-waste” now makes up the fastest growing portion of the waste stream, growing almost 3 times faster than other types of waste.
The negative impact on public health is causing health care organizations to recognize their responsibility in addressing the environmental impact of their computer and electronic waste. Beyond e-waste, these facilities must also consider the careful recycling of their light bulbs, ballasts and batteries.
Healthcare facilities must also take steps to ensure HIPAA standards are met when disposing of e-waste and printed documents. Sensitive patient information must be protected through the proper erasure and destruction process prior to recycling.
Hospitals, clinics, physicians offices and laboratories need a trusted resource to manage the proper and secure recycling of their electronic waste. eLot Recycling provides its customers with environmentally conscious recycling of all electronic equipment used in the healthcare field. Further, eLot Recycling provides HIPAA compliant data and document destruction and provides certificates of destruction and recycling.