Growing call to ban use of environmentally harmful anesthetic

Scotland has become the first country to ban its hospitals from using the environmentally harmful anesthetic desflurane.
The anesthetic desflurane is considered harmful to the environment.
Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 06, 2023

Scotland is leading the way in the push to ban the environmentally harmful anesthetic desflurane from being used in its hospitals. 

Kenneth Barker, a Clinical Lead at Green Theatres, said it's the first time it will be removed from the supply chain and operating rooms in the country can only use desflurane under "exceptional clinical circumstances."

As the push for legislation to ban the anesthetic moves forward in various areas, hospitals in places like the UK and at Seattle's Children's Hospital in Washington have made efforts to reduce desflurane use. 

According to data from England's National Health Service, the gas has a global warming impact potentially 2,500 times larger than carbon dioxide. 

It is estimated that banning the use of the anesthetic in England would reduce emissions harmful to the environment with the equivalent of that caused by powering 11,000 homes each year, the BBC reported, citing NHS data from 2020. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, desflurane is considered to be a general anesthetic used before and during surgery to keep patients sedated and unconscious during procedures. 

Dr. Matthew Davies, President of the Association of Anaesthetists, said, "The decommissioning of desflurane is a crucial step in limiting the environmental impacts of surgery."