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The Climate Crisis and the Carbon Footprint of Medicine

The Climate Crisis

The climate crisis is a central threat to public health. Women are disproportionately affected by the crisis. As global temperatures rise, preterm delivery, congenital defects, low birth weight, and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy increase. Additionally, women have higher morbidity and mortality from climate disasters and higher cardiopulmonary deaths due to cardiopulmonary disease and increased risk of physical and sexual abuse during migration and natural disasters. Increased air pollution increases risk of cancers including endometrial cancer. Needless to say, OBGYNs have a lot to fight for. 

The Health Care System and Climate Change

The U.S. health care system is responsible for approximately 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the last decade. The U.S. health care system produces 5 million tons of waste annually, which amounts to approximately 29 pounds of waste per hospital bed per day. Operating rooms generate approximately 30% of the total solid waste in a hospital, and a majority of regulated medical waste in hospitals. 

There are numerous factors contributing to the carbon footprint of OBGYN, but some of the main factors include hospital energy use for ORs and the Labor and Delivery Unit, single-use supplies, waste, and anesthesia. 


The Decarbonization of OBGYN

This crisis can seem overwhelming, however the actions of each individual clinician as well as overall physician buy-in is essential to combat this crisis from the ground up. As individual health care providers we must educate ourselves and the staff we work with, strive towards using more reusable equipment in place of disposable options, be conscientious of when we use regulated medical waste, and urge our partners in industry and pharmaceuticals to practice sustainability as well. Working together will help to decrease our carbon footprint of OBGYN faster, and every decision and small action matters. 


Our Mission

We hope to bring together and create a community of OBGYNs who are committed to leading the decarbonization of healthcare. OBGYNs are excellent leaders and patient advocates. As our patients have much at stake, we are in a position to take the lead in this movement - in our departments, in our hospitals, in all of healthcare. 


 We hope you join us! 

Our Community

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