Environmental Sustainability: A Core Value Essential for Today’s Healthcare Practice

Author: Todd L Sack MD

Today more than ever, you need to be an environmentally sustainable practice. This is because the skills that lead to  sustainability are the same skills that help you to thrive in today’s competitive world:  decision-making by teams, continual process improvement, efficiency & flexibility.

Modern medical practices need to harness the talents and creativity of everyone in the practice to find new ways of solving problems.   The healthcare office Green Team is a proven management tool.  Green Teams help to foster:

  • Employee participation & team building

  • Staff & patient communication

  • Office self-examination & improvement

  • Lowering business operating costs

  • Supporting the values of employees who want to “make a difference” for others

  • Creating a healthier work environment

  • Improving the public’s recognition and approval of the practice

  • Achieving healthier patients &  communities

“Environmental sustainability” was defined in 1987 by the United Nation’s World Commission on Environment & Development as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”1   Others have said it more poetically:  “We did not inherit this planet from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”2

Environmental sustainability can become a core value for your office or clinic, accompanying other values that are important to you such as delivering quality care, dedication to preserving life, respect for privacy, and non-discrimination.  It is about being aware of  the long-term implications of our actions.  For health professionals, this recalls our most fundamental ethical principal, attributed to the “Father of Medicine”, Hippocrates, in the 3rd Century B.C.E.: “First do no harm.”

Health professionals know that everything we do has the potential to harm, even as we intend to heal.  We consume significant quantities of energy, water, chemicals, and other resources.  In fact, the U.S. healthcare industry is the second most intensive consumer of energy in the commercial sector, second only to the food industry.3  Our work leads to  air pollution and to climate-warming greenhouse gases.  Each of the tests and treatments that we order  produces a small environmental injury that may, in aggregate, injure the natural environment and  have consequences for human health.

My Green Doctor is a complete environmental sustainability program for healthcare offices, clinics, and other outpatient facilities. It is written by health professionals, evidence-based, easy to use, requires no environmental knowledge, and is free.   Most practices will save money in the first month using My Green Doctor; one medical  group has been saving more than $2000 U.S per doctor annually for many years.  This is why more than 550 practices from 58 countries have registered to use My Green Doctor.

Register today for free at https://www.mygreendoctor.org.  Anyone can use the site.  Just for registering, you will receive an attractive certificate to display in the office to demonstrate that the practice has pledged to work towards environmental sustainability using My Green Doctor.

About the Author:  Todd Sack is Editor of www.MyGreenDoctor.org, a free environmental sustainability service for healthcare offices & clinics. Twelve health professional societies provide      My Green Doctor as a money-saving membership benefit.

Sources:

1) “Our Common Future”, Report of the UN World Commission on Environment & Development, 1987, p16 (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5987our-common-future.pdf, accessed Mar 1, 2020)

2) Robert F Kennedy Jr., in a public lecture, Jacksonville, Florida USA, July 2007

3) U.S. Energy Information Administration, 1995 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (https://www.eia.gov/consumption/commercial/data/1995/ , accessed Mar 1, 2020)

Financial Disclosure:  Neither the Florida Medical Association that owns My Green Doctor nor its editors receives income from My Green Doctor.

 

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