Towards Circular ICUs: Circular Intubations as a Catalyser for Systemic Change

Alicia Ville*, Nicole Hunfeld, Conny Bakker, Baptiste Sene, Jan Carel Diehl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This project aims to reduce the environmental impact of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Erasmus Medical Center (EMC). Systemic design research was executed to map the current waste flow created by the ICU. Literature review, interviews and observations were performed to gather information about the healthcare protocols, hospital procurement process, intubation practices and used devices and consumables. This resulted in a set of challenges which were used to ideate from different perspectives to improve the sustainability of the ICU. A set of opportunities to introduce circularity within the ICU were defined. These opportunities ranged from waste separation to the reduction of the disposal of unused products. The selected circular opportunity was intubation, needed when patients cannot breathe by themselves. For this, a video laryngoscope, which is composed of various plastics, a video camera, and a led light, is used for only a few minutes and disposed of (and incinerated) directly afterwards. The aim of the second part of this research project was: Can we design a circular intubation procedure as a catalyzer for systemic change towards circular ICUs? One of the proposed circular strategies for the video laryngoscope is the reprocessing of intubation devices used at the ICU itself. A transition model toward reprocessing using UV-C radiation technique was further developed. Compared to current reprocessing procedures, UV-C disinfection consumes no water and less electricity and offers the possibility of decentralized reprocessing within the ICU department itself. This project aims to provoke conversations between the hospital, manufacturers and other stakeholders about how the healthcare sector could start reprocessing valuable medical devices towards a circular ICU.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpringer Series in Design and Innovation
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Publication series

SeriesSpringer Series in Design and Innovation

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2024.


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