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Eleven master’s students start research into sustainable hospitals

February 8 saw the launch of the Medical Delta ‘Sustainable Hospitals’ Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab. From insight into the environmental impact of health data storage to reducing pharmaceutical waste in the operating theatre, the research projects will touch on different aspects of healthcare. The students hope they will be able to offer practical solutions to make hospitals greener.

How can we bring babies into the world in the most sustainable possible way? What is the most optimal and sustainable use of PET-CT scans? As of today 11 master’s students are looking for answers to these and other research questions that relate to sustainable hospitals. They are doing so within the Medical Delta and LDE Centre for Sustainability’s ‘Sustainable Hospitals’ interdisciplinary Thesis Lab.

The Thesis Labs are hubs of interdisciplinary learning and research into various questions from real-life settings. These are developed in advance by participating institutions, including the LUMC, Leiden University, Delft University of Technology and Erasmus MC.

Environmental impact of treatment options

One of the students will look with the gynaecology department at the environmental effects of treatment options for heavy menstrual bleeding. The doctor and patient discuss the different treatment options. The emphasis often lies on the advantages and possible complications of a particular option. The patient then makes a decision. Gynaecologists want to know whether sustainability plays a role in this. They therefore want to determine the environmental impact of the different treatment options for heavy menstrual bleeding. This medical condition can be treated in several ways: with oral contraception, a coil or removal of the endometrium or uterus.   

The aim of this research is to compare the environmental effects of the treatment options and to identify the sustainability bottlenecks of each option in order to find ways to reduce the environmental impact.

Tangible contribution

The resultant master’s theses will offer new leads and sometimes tangible solutions for sustainable healthcare. These will be passed on to the commissioning institution and will be publicly available at a roundtable session. They will therefore make a tangible contribution to sustainable healthcare.

For more information on the Sustainable Hospitals Interdisciplinary Thesis Lab and a list of the research topics, see the Centre for Sustainability website.

Photos: Unsplash, Eelkje Colmjon

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