Healthcare facilities have long paid a great deal of attention to the medical and financial side of their operations. Increasingly, they are facing scrutiny about the impact their operations are having on the environment.
Nearly 9 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States are caused by the healthcare industry, and few standards exist to mitigate them, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Jodi Sherman, MD, a physician at Yale New Haven (Conn.) Health and sustainability researcher at Yale University, discussed the healthcare industry's effect on the climate and what can be done to improve sustainability. Among her points:
- Health damages caused by air pollution are as harmful as accidental injuries from medical errors. For medical errors, hospitals measure the problem, formalize patient safety and put in extensive work to mitigate patient harm. The same process should be applied to solving healthcare sustainability.
- Healthcare already has a social mission that implies the goodwill of hospitals and makes some healthcare workers feel as if that's enough. There is also not enough information showing healthcare's direct effect on climate change, and since the harms feel distant, it's not as urgent as patient care delivery is.