Wichita State researchers help hospitals lower energy use

02/18/2013 11:15 PM

08/08/2014 10:14 AM

Wichita State University researchers have been working with area hospitals to find ways to reduce energy and material consumption, according to a news release from the university.

Industrial and manufacturing engineering professors Michael Overcash and Janet Twomey led a team of students and researchers to find how energy is used for CT scans, MRIs, X-rays and ultrasounds.The research was conducted from 2008 to 2012 with radiology departments at Cypress Women’s Imaging, the Robert J. Dole VA Medical Center and Wesley Medical Center.

“The area hospitals we are working with are a part of larger organizations that have sustainability programs,” Overcash said. “Those programs focus on trying to do things like we’ve been developing with energy improvement.”

They found that when reusable items such as surgical gowns and drapes were used, there was a 200 to 700 percent improvement in energy use, according to the release.

Additionally, researchers found that for some conditions, lower-energy tests such as a CT scan can be used instead of higher-energy tests, like MRIs, and that can reduce energy use.

“The decisions made by the medical community, the nurses, physicians, administrators, really benefit by them understanding how those decisions impact energy use and that enlightening brings them into equation on how to help make improvements,” Overcash said.

Overcash said they plan to share the findings locally and with the national imaging community.

The researchers will continue to look into other services at participating facilities, including operating rooms, emergency rooms and testing labs, according to the release.

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