AHA says that factors to consider when comparing reusable textiles to disposables include : Cost of product ; cost of disposal of product ; staff satisfaction with comfort , quality , and safety and appropriate barrier protection .”
potential , and primary energy demand , and similar-to-higher ozone depletion potential , compared to the worst case of reusable gowns . The impacts of disposable gowns were primarily linked to raw materials ( polypropylene ) and manufacturing , while impacts of reusable gowns were dominated by washing .”
The researchers point to another cradle-to-use comparison of reusable medical patient gown ( 55 percent cotton / 45 percent polyester with a halamine antimicrobial surface ) to a disposable gown ( polypropylene spunbond-meltblown-spunbond fabric ) found that the reusable gown consumes 71 percent less energy than the disposable gown ( 65,049 MJ compared to 225,947 MJ , respectively , per 75,000 gown uses ), assuming 75 reuses per reusable gown . They note , “ In addition , the reusable gown produces significantly less air , water and solid chemical emissions . The reusable gown uses fewer raw materials overall , excluding water . Even assuming only 10 reuses , the reusable gown achieves lower energy usage than the disposable gown .” They emphasize that the results must be contextualized based on the fabric ( cotton versus cotton / polyester mix ), manufacturing process , and laundering process of the gowns , as well as the antimicrobial finish and application process .
Baker , et al . ( 2020 ) also compared their findings to the literature on surgical gowns and drapes in the operating room . A recent cradle-to-end-of-life analysis , including natural resources , creation , use and reuse , laundering , sterilization , and transportation , and end-of-life disposal of reusable surgical gowns against disposables found that using reusable gowns reduced natural resource energy consumption by 64 percent , greenhouse gas emissions by 66 percent , blue water consumption by 83 percent , and solid waste generation by 84 percent when compared with disposable gowns . This is consistent with earlier studies of reusable versus disposable surgical textiles : across six large life-cycle studies , researchers found that , compared with reusable textiles , disposable textiles require 200 percent to 300 percent more energy and 250 percent to 330 percent more water , generate 750 percent more solid waste and generate a 200 percent to 300 percent larger carbon footprint .
Examining Cost in the Reusables / Disposables Comparison
The AHA estimates that the added costs of buying PPE for hospitals was $ 2.4 billion over just four months , from March through June 2020 , or about $ 600 million per month .
Researchers at the Society for Healthcare Organization Procurement Professionals found that the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a 2000 percent price increase for isolation gowns , from $ 0.25 to $ 5 per gown . As the society notes , “ With new disposable gowns required for every provider and every provider requiring multiple gowns per day , the demand and therefore cost of gowns has skyrocketed . Reusable gowns provide not only a baseline cost savings but also price and supply stability during times of high PPE demand .”
This is not surprising , in that O ’ Connor , et al . ( 2015 ) pointed out pre-pandemic that “ America ’ s hospitals generate 6,600 tons of waste each day . Hospitals that have chosen to use disposable products rather than reusables produce a substantially greater amount of solid and medical waste , costing them more in disposal costs . One of the common areas in the hospital where disposable products have been used as an alternative to reusables is in the operating room ( OR ). According to the 2005 Comparative Operating Revenues and Expense Profile for the Healthcare Textile Maintenance Industry , which included 49 percent of all U . S . hospital beds in its study , approximately 6.5 pounds of surgical textiles are used per bed each day in hospitals with 300 or more beds . If a 300-bed hospital chose to use disposable surgical products rather than reusables , they would incur upwards of an additional $ 250,000 in costs to trash the disposable products – about 35 cents per pound that should be added to the purchase price or $ 833.33 per bed per year .”
Investing in reusable gowns , scrubs , uniforms , linen , drapes , curtains and other reusable textiles , contribute significantly to reduce the cost of care , TRSA says , offering these points for consideration :
• Retaining reusable gowns instead of switching to disposables saved a group of 30 hospitals $ 1.4 million per year
• 100 gown uses for 365 days created a savings of $ 10,000 annually
Overcash and Sehulster ( 2021 ) note that , “ Regarding cost , numerous articles acknowledge that on an annual basis , disposable textile items are more expensive compared to the cost of reusable textiles . A recent economic analysis found that the disposables were approximately twice as expensive on an annual basis .”
They add , “… the healthcare system is paying annually on the order of 10 percent to 100 percent more for disposable healthcare textiles with a risk improvement of about 2.6 HAIs per week in the United States and the United Kingdom , which would lower the HAI rate of these ( combined ) nations from 32,900 per week to 32,897 per week . This low risk of infection attributed to reusable healthcare textiles is the basis for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC )’ s acknowledgment of the historical record of patient safety and extremely infrequent episodes of infection linked to these clean healthcare textiles .” They observe further , “ The annual cost savings from selecting reusable healthcare textiles does not come with any measurable increased risk of HAI to patients and therefore represents a prudent healthcare facility decision . With the COVID-19 pressure on PPE , reusables are increasing substantially and so the results herein should build confidence in these decisions .”
AHA says that factors to consider when comparing reusable textiles to disposables include : Cost of product ; cost of disposal of product ; staff satisfaction with comfort , quality , and safety and appropriate barrier protection .
AHA says that “ Reusable textiles can provide cost savings by dramatically reducing the amount of waste and , therefore , the disposal costs paid by healthcare organizations . An investment in a reusable surgical program can reduce waste as much as 30 percent and be as cost-effective , or more so , than a program