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Kootenay Lake Hospital changes anaesthetic process to lower greenhouse gas footprint

Use of the harmful greenhouse gas Desflurane has been discontinued
Kootenay Lake Hospital will use the anaesthetic gas sevoflurane exclusively and discontinue the use of desflurane. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

To reduce its greenhouse gas footprint, Kootenay Lake Hospital has made substantial changes to the hospital’s anaesthetic gas usage, according to a hospital press release.

“We are now using sevoflurane in 99 per cent of hospital procedures requiring anaesthetic,” said Dr. Jim Wiedrick, chief of staff at KLH. “I’m pleased to report that all of our anaesthetists are in alignment with this important decision.”

The two main anaesthetic gases used in surgical procedures are sevoflurane and desflurane. When a surgical case is completed, the gases are eventually vented into the earth’s atmosphere.

Desflurane is 13 times more harmful as a greenhouse gas than sevoflurane.

The news release states that a movement towards eliminating the use of desflurane anesthetic was initiated earlier last year by the group Doctors and Nurses for Planetary Health KB, a grassroots collective of health professionals from across Kootenay Boundary working to address the ecological and climate crises that are threatening human health and wellbeing.

KLH has also acquired two new anaesthetic machines, which have decreased the amount of anaesthetic gas that is released from the hospital.

The news release states that Dr. Lee McKay and Dr. Kyle Merritt have recently launched Engaging in Climate Action, a program that will address climate change issues at the hospital and the larger health community, with the possible goal of implementing a green hospital scorecard to monitor and reduce energy use.


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