It always comes as a surprise for ordinary people to know that the health industry is one of the largest waste producers in the country. Even those working for the health and medical industry see the irony of being a part of the greatest polluters while trying to save the very lives of some who have been inadvertently affected by medical wastes.
While the health sector continues to find ways to implement sustainable practices, anesthesia physicians in Northern California are demonstrating their dedication to tackle the ecological sustainability concerns plaguing their colleagues.
The sustainability checklist
A reputable anesthesia medical group in Northern California would follow the sustainability checklist compiled by the American Society of Anesthesiologists Environmental Task Force in dealing with the issue.
The checklist can be divided into seven broad categories: reducing inhaled anesthetic atmospheric waste; reducing IV pharmaceutical wastes; reducing anesthesia equipment waste; practicing solid waste segregation; considering linen usage; avoiding excessive electronic use; and developing strong leadership practices.
Dr. Jodi Sherman, an assistant professor of anesthesiology at Yale School of Medicine and one of the leading proponents of sustainable anesthesiology, is urging her fellow anesthesiologists to take the reins of leadership in promoting environmental awareness among the health sector.
She specifically noted that anesthesiologists are omnipresent in a medical facility’s environmental hot spot like the operating room, where the pollution footprint is the highest. There’s also the fact that anesthesiologists are present during the delivery of clinical care as well. This makes anesthesiologists hyperaware of everything that needs to be done to effectively reduce the facility’s environmental waste.
While the call for medical facilities to reduce environmental wastes and the continuous efforts of anesthesia physicians to follow the sustainability checklist, there are still some that are demanding proof on the effectivity of the aforementioned checklist in doing its primary purpose.
Since inhaled anesthetics have long been confirmed as potent greenhouse gases, certain research institutions are allotting a considerable amount of time and money in benchmarking the facility-level of inhaled anesthetic carbon footprints to compare and inspire performance improvements. There are also some studies aimed at creating simple strategies that can effectively reduce the inhaled anesthetic emissions without compromising public health or patient care.
Through their participation, anesthesiologists in Northern California can positively contribute to the reduction of carbon footprint, which, in turn, can transform the health sector as sustainable members of society.
Anesthesiology Sustainability Checklist, asahq.org