In this episode of the #CodaEarth podcast about reducing harmful gases in anaesthesia, host Laura Raiti is joined by Jessica Hegedus - an anaesthetist working in Wollongong, New South Wales, who is also a member of Doctors for the Environment.
As someone passionate about environmental sustainability within anaesthesia, Jessica starts by telling Laura that the one thing that motivates her the most when it comes to the climate crisis is the fact that it’s an emergency that will end up impacting us all; as both citizens living in the community, and professionally as healthcare workers responding to its impacts. This puts many of us in the unique position in that we’re contributing to a crisis inadvertently as healthcare professionals, that we’ll also be on the frontline responding to.
They talk about the importance of reframing climate change as a health problem, and how as healthcare professionals we have the responsibility to protect and preserve health.
Jessica notes that while reducing healthcare admissions won’t resolve the climate crisis, that our leadership is essential, and that healthcare professionals are an important and trusted voice for action. She believes that we can send a powerful signal by getting our own house in order and that all contributions towards a low carbon society are important, however small.
Focus then shifts to the #CodaEarth Action – reducing harmful volatile agents used in anaesthesia - which not only make a significant contribution to CO2 healthcare emissions, but whose use is also directly within our control. Collective attention to reducing the impact is both meaningful and achievable opportunity for healthcare providers to demonstrate their leadership.
Laura and Jess also discuss six evidence-based actions to reduce anaesthetic gas usage that are practical and don’t compromise patient care. The actions include removing Desflurane from clinical use, de-commissioning Nitrous oxide piping, rationalizing Nitrous oxide where possible, advocating that healthcare workers use the lowest possible fresh gas flow, prioritising alternatives that have less environmental impact, and tracking progress, sharing results, and engaging with others.
Jess was inspired due to frustrations with slow progress on climate change, combined with increasingly visible effects of the crisis on the community and her practice, and has found that it can be both empowering and rewarding to exercise advocacy and effect change within her patch.
Jess also tells Laura that she believes there are meaningful actions we can all take that will contribute to a greater whole, and that the potential for healthcare providers to do this is immense. Jess believes that all contributions are meaningful and all roles are important, and that people shouldn’t be deterred by how big the problem is; perfect is the enemy of good and something is better than nothing.
Join Coda Earth now to safely reduce pMDI usage in your own practice.