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Hospitals send performance reports to cut greenhouse gas use in anesthesia

Published on January 26, 2023

Exterior of Seattle Children's Hospital
Image Credit: Sage Ross (CC BY-SA 4.0)

At Massachusetts General Hospital, anesthesiologist Dr. Sam Smith co-founded a committee to discuss changes for the anesthesiology department as a whole. Nurse anesthetists and anesthesiologists were already getting monthly performance reports that showed how well they avoided low blood pressures during surgery and postoperative nausea. Now, they also see two climate assessments: The global warming footprint of the gasses they choose and whether they are reducing the flow, or amount of gas used.

These climate measures are a key step in Mass General’s pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The hospital’s latest assessment shows anesthesia accounts for 43% of its greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a higher percentage than at many other hospitals because Mass General has already taken steps to address its carbon footprint in other areas. For example, all of the electricity for the hospital’s main campus now comes from renewable sources, most notably wind.

Dr. Elizabeth Hansen at Seattle Children’s Hospital says the monthly reports she began sending to anesthesia colleagues in December of 2021 are making a difference there too. With the emails, an earlier education campaign and new protocols, Seattle Children’s has cut greenhouse gas emissions associated with anesthesia by 87% as compared to five years ago.

Continue reading at WBUR.

Originally written by Martha Bebinger for WBUR.
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