Health systems phase out common type of anesthesia

A growing number of health systems are moving to end the use of desflurane — a common anesthesia gas that lingers in the atmosphere for more than a decade. 

Already, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Marlton, N.J.-based Virtua Health have stopped using the gas, according to a May 7 report from The Philadelphia Inquirer. Virtua is increasingly moving away from all types of inhaled anesthetics and encouraging physicians to opt for IV-delivered drugs to limit greenhouse gas emissions further. 

Meanwhile, Radnor Township, Pa.-based Maine Line Health has cut back on its use of desflurane, and Philadelphia-based Penn Medicine has eliminated its use in four of its six hospitals, with plans to phase out the drug in its other two hospitals by the end of the year. 

Other systems that have taken the step in the past year include Pittsburgh-based UPMC and Vancouver, Wash.-based PeaceHealth

In the past, desflurane was the preferred anesthetic since the body clears it quickly and patients come to within minutes of the gas being turned off. Now, sevoflurane, another inhaled anesthesia, is considered the preferred option for most patients since it's less likely to cause nausea and is easier on patients' airways. It's also less taxing on the environment and known to hang in the air for just over a year. 

The healthcare sector is responsible for nearly 9% of carbon emissions in the U.S. Hospitals' efforts to reduce the use of desflurane reflect a relatively minor step in larger strategies to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Health systems are also focused on shifting to solar power and eliminating waste, which will ultimately translate into significant savings, leaders say. 

Penn Medicine anticipates it will save about $40,000 per year by eliminating desflurane at just one hospital. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars