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Sustainability, Uncategorized

Sustainability applies to everything including kidney dialysis

For a project in university I once looked at all the things in health care that used oil based products, it’s a lot. I talked in that project about how important it is to prioritize where we use oil as we will inevitably have to phase out its use. Nobody wants to stop important health care for sustainability but the global health care industry is a huge contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. So big that if it were a country it would be the fifth biggest emitter. As a result, we do need to look at ways to reduce the impacts of health care. In an earlier post I looked at the impacts of different anaesthetics. In this post, I’m going to look at a survey of dialysis facilities in Australia and New Zealand.

Talbot et al (2022) sent a survey to 365 dialysis facilities. 33% returned the survey. I don’t know what the response rates are for this type of survey to this type of facility. The rate seems about normal to me but the authors point out that this could indicate that sustainability isn’t a priority for many of the facilities. This makes sense to me. If they were actively addressing sustainability they might be more invested in returning the survey so the non responses might be indicative that there needs to be more education on the role of these facilities in addressing climate change generally and in relevant education programs.

The results indicate that it isn’t a huge priority. Areas of interest included whether they had a strategy in place and if they were doing sustainability audits. On the building front they asked about renewable energy, water recycling, and motion sensors on lights. Finally they considered waste and procurement practices. The most common effort was motion sensors on lights at 44%. The least common, somewhat surprisingly, was including environmental training for staff.

I’m intrigued by why staff training was so low. It seems like many of the actions would involve staff actions to be most effective and yet only 7% of the responding facilities indicated that they included environmental training for staff. I wonder if this is part of the challenge with improving the sustainability of health care: the health care will always be the priority, and it should be. But, as a result, there are missed opportunities to change regular practices and improve facilities to decrease the impacts of these vital services.

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.


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