On Saturday, WattsUpWithThat posted an article explaining how cancer treatments contribute to global warming.
The article notes:
Operating rooms are a massive source of greenhouse gas production for hospitals, representing 70% of their waste and generating three to six times as much carbon as the rest of health systems.
Cancer care is an obvious target for greener efforts within surgery, Berlin notes, because it often involves intense levels of care over a short period of time.
Plus, minimally invasive surgeries that require a lot of energy, including robotic-assisted operations, have become common treatments for cancers ranging from colorectal and uterine cancer to head and neck cancer. A robotic-assisted hysterectomy, for example, produces as much carbon as driving more than 2,200 miles in a car — the equivalent of a road trip from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Los Angeles.
“If we can lower our greenhouse gas output, we have a chance to extend the lifespan of our patients and expand access to timely care,” Agbafe said. “And we think it’s really important that the surgical community is proactive at being at that table.”
…Some sustainability shifts may come even sooner at Michigan Medicine.
For instance, the Department of Anesthesiology recently launched the Green Anesthesia Initiative, or GAIA for short. Its mission: become more environmentally conscious about the types and rates of anesthesia its providers use, another area Agbafe and Berlin say is ripe for improvement.
“This is a topic of fairly intense discussion right now in the field, and I’ve been thinking about it for a while,” said George Mashour, M.D., Ph.D., the chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and the Robert B. Sweet Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Michigan Medical School. “Unlike other industries, I don’t think that we require massive disruption in order to make progress because, fortunately, we have options.”
Several inhaled gases regularly used for anesthesia are A-list offenders when it comes to greenhouse gas production. Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, is a greenhouse gas, a direct ozone depleter and does not dissipate from the atmosphere for more than a century after it’s produced.
However, the inhaled anesthetic sevoflurane has much less of an environmental impact than nitrous oxide and other common inhaled agents, so Mashour says it would be a good alternative.
“The overall goal is to shift away from some of these egregious culprits and start making better choices about which drug we use and then also how we use it,” Mashour said.
Do we really want the climate police controlling the medical profession? This could be very bad very quickly.