Greening The Operating Room

Fri, 04/06/2012 - 7:27am
T. Kate Huncke, M.D. and Susan M. Ryan, M.D., Ph.D.

In an effort to recognize April as Earth Month, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is taking action to help hospitals across the country green their operating rooms with a white paper by the ASA Task Force on Environmental Sustainability.

Physicians such as anesthesiologists are responsible for the health of the community, which is dependent on a healthy environment. Unfortunately, the health care sector is not as environmentally friendly as you may think. It accounts for 8 percent of total green house gas emissions in the U.S., according to a study from the University of Chicago. Hospitals have the greatest negative impact on the environment, emitting 39 percent of health care’s total green house gas emissions.

In particular, operating rooms are the biggest consumers of energy and generate 20-30 percent of total hospital waste. As anesthesiologists, we recognize that our role constitutes a hospital-based practice integrated into operating rooms, diagnostic and procedural areas, as well as other patient care areas. As a result, we have the insight and ability among hospital leadership to affect change and promote environmentally-positive practices.

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