Do they reduce anesthesia during surgery to save the planet? Doctors say it could reduce global carbon emissions by 0.1%.

Researchers are asking doctors to use anesthesia on their surgical patients in the name of climate change.

Doctors at Henry Ford Health in Detroit, Michigan say it could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of hospitals in the US.

Public opinion

Would you be willing to accept less anesthesia in the name of climate change?

  • yes 19 votes
  • no 444 votes

Studies show that inhaled anesthetics account for up to 0.1 percent of global carbon emissions.

Dr Mohamed Fayed, Senior Anesthetist at Henry Ford, said: ‘Global warming is affecting our daily lives, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions has become critical.

Each result, no matter how small, adds up. As anesthesiologists, we can make a significant contribution to this cause by making small changes to our daily practice – such as anesthetic gas – without affecting patient care.’

He made the comments at the annual meeting of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in Orlando, Florida last Friday.

Henry Ford Health System is reducing the amount of anesthesia the hospital uses for surgery to limit the effects of climate change (file photo)

Henry Ford Health System is reducing the amount of anesthesia the hospital uses for surgery to limit the effects of climate change (file photo)

Henry Ford researchers collected data from 13,000 patients over a seven-month period from March to September 2021. They set a goal to reduce anesthetic per minute (L/m) as much as possible.

In an attempt to reduce the overall use of anesthesia in the hospital, the team instructed physicians to return the amount used between those parts of the procedure.

This only applies to inhaled anesthetics, not sedation or local anesthetics used in minor procedures.

At the beginning of their research, 65 percent of the surgeries fell within this limit. After months of study, they brought the figure down to just seven percent.

Now, you want to reduce anesthetic use to less than 2L/m as much as possible.

“For a long time, it was thought that the greenhouse effect on health care facilities was an unavoidable and unavoidable cost of providing patient care,” Dr. Fayed said.

But we’ve learned that reducing anesthetic gas flow is just one of many ways health care can reduce its contribution to global warming, from reducing waste, to turning off lights and equipment when not in use, and challenging exercise routines. They do not compromise patient care’.

The amount of anesthesia a person takes during surgery depends on the weight and other factors such as the time of surgery, age and risk factors.

Surgical anesthetics are made of several chemicals, including nitrous oxide halothane, isoflurane, desflurane, sevoflurane.

One hour of anesthesia can have the same effect on the atmosphere as a person driving a car for about 500 miles, researchers say.

Presenting their findings this week at ADVANCE 2023 in Orlando, Florida, the Henry Ford research team explains that surgical anesthesia requires hot gas at the beginning and end of the procedure.

Using high doses of anesthesia comes with risks. Although safe in almost all cases, multiple anesthetics can deprive cells of oxygen and can cause stroke, brain damage, coma, or death.

There are risks of not getting enough anesthesia though.

A person can always wake up during surgery, which can be painful and very traumatic.

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