Anesthesiology CQI reduces greenhouse gas emissions

The Anesthesiology Performance Improvement and Reporting Exchange CQI, or ASPIRE, aims to improve the quality of care and outcomes for patients receiving anesthesia. Now, participants are focusing on improving population health as they help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“We often forget that providing health care can generate great amounts of waste and pollution, causing disease and potentially leading to death as well,” said Dr. Faris Ahmad, medical director, Value Partnerships. “ASPIRE is leading the charge to make sure as clinicians, we reduce our carbon footprint as much as we can.”

Environmental stewardship

Health care generates nearly 10% of our national greenhouse gas emissions. Anesthesia providers generate such emissions from anesthetic gases vented into the atmosphere as the patient breathes out, which can persist up to 114 years.

Changes that can be made to reduce the environmental impact include reducing the air and oxygen delivered with anesthetic gases, capturing anesthetics so they are not wasted, and reducing the amount of polluting agents. The easiest step is to reduce fresh gas flows, which also results in significant cost savings.

To address this issue, ASPIRE launched a quality improvement initiative to encourage environmental sustainability. Results show significant improvement in the past year.​​​​​​​

“Environmental stewardship is everyone’s responsibility,” Ahmad said. “ASPIRE recognizes this responsibility and hopes that adhering to this quality improvement measure will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help improve the air we breathe, reduce costs, all without any harm to patients.”

Figure 1.  Adherence with environmental initiative for ASPIRE hospital sites in MI