Can Surgery Ever Become Environmentally Sustainable?
Climate change represents the ‘biggest health threat facing humanity’ (WHO, 2021) and every sector must do its part to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and become more environmentally sustainable. A large proportion of healthcare greenhouse gas emissions and clinical waste come from surgery but making sustainability changes in this area without putting patients at risk of harm can be very difficult.
This article investigates sustainability initiatives which could be introduced across the NHS to reduce the environmental impact of surgery without compromising patient safety or negatively impacting patient care. This literature review reveals multiple sustainability initiatives which could be introduced, including reducing anaesthetic gas use, more efficient waste management, water conservation, and the development of programmes prioritising sustainability amongst surgeons.