NEJM Report: Decarbonizing the U.S. Health Care Sector, Saving Money and Lives

Dec. 3, 2021
The U.S. Health Care sector generates 8 percent of all carbon emissions nationally and 25 percent of all health care industry emissions globally

The American health care industry is under pressure in ways that may be unprecedented.

In addition to decades long criticism over the relatively high costs of U.S. health care, hospitals and professionals are being overwhelmed by the COVID-19 virus. Nurses are getting burned out and leaving the profession.

A new report says the system also causes another kind of burnout. A perspetive published on the New England Journal of Medicine website indicates the U.S. health care industry needs to do more in reducing its vast and relatively pollutive carbon footprint.

The piece, titled "Decarbonizing the U.S. Health Sector: A Call to Action," features authors from the National Academy of Medicine, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Cardinal Health, UnitedHealth Group and more. It notes that the U.S. Health Care sector accounts for 8 percent of carbon emissions nationally, whether its energy used to heat and cool hospitals, for supply chain in goods and services. Those emissions are the highest in the industrialized world and are 25 percent of all global health care emissions.

A World Health Organization report indicates that climate change impacts cause more than $4 billion health damages annually.

"Ameliorating the sector’s environmental effects and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions could not only improve health for everyone, but also reduce costs of care," reads the NEJM perspective. ..." Progress in four areas will be essential for decarbonizing and responding to climate change: the health care supply chain, health care delivery, health professional education, and policy, financing, and metrics."

Click here to read more of the report.

On December 14, EnergyTech will host a webinar looking at energy efficiency and sustainability actions taken by the Penn State Health Hershey Medical Center, as well as several universities. Registration is free for one-hour panel starting at 2 p.m. EasternTime. The panel will feature speakers from Penn State Health, Chatham University and the U.S. Green Business Certification Inc.

Click here to register and for more info about the EnergyTech webinar