Anesthesia Providers in a Position to Score a Sustainability Hat Trick

The Earth Day Network delivered another set of horrifying facts this year about pollution caused by plastic, insidious plastic. Imagine, by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish, by weight, in the oceans. A bright spot: we’ve begun the march toward eliminating/minimizing its use (plastic straws and bags being replaced by paper and reusable ones—a start).

A not-so-bright-spot: the healthcare industry has a large carbon footprint. Good news, it has begun shrinking its size via ORs. Why? Emission of anesthetic gases as a byproduct of surgical procedures.  Not something patients think about, but certainly a cause for concern by those in the ecological sustainability field. According to, “More than one-third of the carbon footprint stemming from an average OR surgical procedure derives from anesthetic gases … up to 5% of a hospital’s greenhouse emissions can come from inhaled anesthetics.”

But there is another bright spot: anesthesia providers can use low- and medium-flow anesthesia to reduce the amount of inhalation agents that are released into the atmosphere.  Not a new practice, but not exactly widely used. The benefits are threefold: greener ORs, improved patient care outcomes, and, savings. According to Dr. Clifford Gervirtz, a veteran anesthesiologist, medical facilities have an opportunity to same up to 40% on oxygen bills simply by following this simple process.

Listen to him share information on how is being accomplished at various healthcare facilities today in the latest edition of GasTalk, the podcast series dedicated to the business and clinical aspects of anesthesia.

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