May 15, 2024

Carbon-conscious health systems phase out desflurane anesthesia gas to reduce emissions

Editor's Note

Citing environmental concerns, multiple health systems have stopped using desflurane anesthesia gas, Becker’s Hospital Review reported on May 7.

Citing the Philadelphia Inquirer, the outlet notes that Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Marlton, N.J.-based Virtua Health are among those that have eliminated the gas so far, with the latter “moving away from all types of inhaled anesthetics and encouraging physicians to opt for IV-delivered drugs to limit greenhouse gas emissions further.”

Other examples cited in the report include Maine Line Health in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, which has “cut back” on use; Penn medicine in Philadelphia, which is conducting a system-wide phase-out completed at four of its six hospitals so far; UPMC in Pittsburgh, and PeaceHealth in Vancouver, Washington.

Becker’s reports the preferred alternative is Sevoflurane, another inhaled anesthesia that is both more environmentally friendly than desflurane and easier on patients.

Although reducing desflurane use is a “relatively minor” step among other environmental initiatives, such as shifting to solar power and eliminating waste, it can provide significant cost savings. According to the report, Penn Medicine anticipates it will save about $40,000 per year by eliminating desflurane at just one hospital. 


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