Principles of 'green' research

In 2008, the World Health Organization convened a global consultation of over 70 expert researchers to identify immediate research needs with regards to protecting human health in the face of climate. Their report, Protecting global health from climate change. Global research priorities identified six key themes for future research, which - applied to anaesthesia - may be paraphrased to:

  1. Environmental concerns about anaesthetic agents must run in parallel with general health concerns about their use.
  2. Comprehensive risk assessment of anaesthetic practices is essential, and invariably extends beyond an isolated assessment.
  3. Comprehensive evaluation of the short and long term effectiveness of alternative or protective strategies is required.
  4. Research should be generalisable beyond the practice of anaesthesia.
  5. Research is needed into early warning and critical incident reporting systems, together with information provision and dissemination methods.
  6. Economic assessment must be made of the effects of continuing with current practice compared with adoption of ‘greener’ methods of anaesthesia.

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Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. Dr Tim Vorster expects to save £30,000 and 40 tonnes of CO2 per year through correct theatre waste segregation

Vorster T, Burke H, Pierce T. Plastic recycling from the operating theatres, working towards a circular economy Royal College of Anaesthetists Bulletin 2015; 92:32-4