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Hospital case study: how did we make our anaesthesia practices more environmentally-friendly?

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Abstract

The environmental impact of anaesthesia has risen to the forefront over the last few years; both via the greenhouse effect of the inhaled anaesthetic agents and the environmental footprint of the consumables used. The anaesthetist has an important role in mitigating these impacts through appropriate monitoring and inclusion of steps to offset any increased requirements. Strategies to reduce the use of inhaled anaesthetic agents via the use of appropriate breathing systems, low flow anaesthesia, airway gas monitoring, and additional forms of analgesia are discussed. Alongside this case examples are used to show how nitrous oxide was removed from one referral hospital, and the impact this had on the practice of anaesthesia and the carbon footprint of the hospital, and how a training and implementation strategy was implemented to drastically reduce the volume of inhalational agents and anaesthetic gases used. Finally, some simple steps that can alter the working environment to promote increased recycling and reduction in waste, that have proven successful in our hospital, are discussed. Although a full team approach is required the anaesthetist is often well placed to implement these changes and push for a reduction in your practice’s environmental footprint.

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