New guide provides essentials for healthcare systems to tackle climate change

New guide provides essentials for healthcare systems to tackle climate change

Federal AHRQ offers a starting point for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

A federal medical research agency hopes its new guide will help doctors, clinical staff and executives begin to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from health systems.

“Reducing carbon emissions in healthcare: A primer on measures and actions to mitigate climate change,” posted 22 September by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Health systems are a “significant contributor to climate change,” responsible for 10% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and contributing to what federal officials describe as a global climate crisis.

At the same time, they are responsible for managing the impacts on patients, and damage to their infrastructure, from climate-related weather disasters, according to the AHRQ, HHS, and the US House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means.

Robert Otto Valdez, Director of AHRQ, Ph.D., MHSA, said in a statement new version About the new primer. “Extreme weather events, deteriorating air quality, and growing food and water insecurity threaten healthcare operations and pose challenges in continuity of care, patient safety and quality, and cost containment. This primer can help healthcare stakeholders respond to this crisis by their example. and their readiness.

from where we start

AHRQ . said The primer describes six areas Contribution to Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Healthcare:

  • building energy
  • Transportation
  • anesthetic gas
  • Medicines and chemicals
  • Medical devices and supplies
  • food

There are basic and optional measures to track progress, along with strategies to reduce greenhouse gases in each region, according to the AHRQ. The agency also defines a potential starting plan, including assigning executive leadership and a team to examine issues, establish goals and action plans, propose interventions, and measure outcomes.

more attention

The primer has been published in coordination with “Accelerating Healthcare Sector Action on Climate Change and Health Equity,” a An ongoing series of webinars hosted by HHS. The department hopes to disseminate information that will stimulate the health system’s efforts to reduce its environmental impacts.

In March, the Chairman of the US House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, Representative Richard Neal, D-Mass., issued a request for various health systems to explain how weather events affect health care.

Some health systems have been dubbed “climate innovators,” as they take measures to reduce their environmental impacts on a large scale, according to the panel’s findings. This report, “Healthcare and the Climate Crisis: Preparing America’s Healthcare Infrastructure,” was published online on September 15. Committee Hearing about the topic.

Kaiser Permanente appears to be a leading national example, reaching carbon neutrality in 2020 and now focusing on becoming carbon negative, according to the Ways and Means Committee findings.

I just started

Both the AHRQ introductory report and the Ways and Means Committee report contain other specific and anecdotal examples of how health systems are responding to climate change.

Meanwhile, HHS announced that more than 600 hospitals, companies and institutions in the health sector have signed on Climate pledge for the healthcare sector To cut greenhouse gas emissions and build “more climate-resilient infrastructure.” The American Medical Association has declared climate change a public health crisis, and the National Academy of Medicine has begun Collaborative Action to Decarbonize the Health Sector in the United States.

But federal leaders agreed that the process of strengthening health care while reducing environmental impacts is just beginning, and some health care system leaders may not know where to begin.

“The health care system in the United States is beginning to feel the harmful effects of climate change,” Neil said on his panel. Opening statement of the meeting. “But it is clear that more climate-related weather events and increased emissions will continue to worsen health outcomes, and the time to act is now.”

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