When discussing greenhouse gas emissions, it would be interesting to know how many times healthcare is mentioned. No doubt the industrial and automotive sectors take center stage, however, a University of Chicago study, cited by a recently revised paper published the American Society of Anesthesiologists, states that healthcare accounts for 8 percent of total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
When you consider their major presence and activity in the OR as well as the following points laid out in the ASA paper, it makes perfect sense to have anesthesiologists lead the charge in reducing a hospital’s carbon footprint.
- Operating rooms generate 20–30 percent of total hospital waste.
- Inhaled anesthetics are potent greenhouse gases.
- Anesthesia equipment and facility design choices can have significant environmental impact.
The complexity of the specialty and wide array of variables in the provision of anesthesia make this a complicated, albeit worthy, task. If improving patient safety and managing costs while shrinking healthcare’s footprint begins without government regulation, the process might be easier.
Downloading a PDF of the ASA’s paper will provide useful information to those interested in helping to create greener ORs and achieving healthcare’s triple aim.
Source: American Society of Anesthesiologists (January, 2017). Task Force on Environmental Sustainability Committee on Equipment and Facilities. "Greening the Operating Room and Perioperative Arena: Environmental Sustainability for Anesthesia Practice" Retrieved from https://www.asahq.org/resources/resources-from-asa-committees/greening-the-operating-room
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