SageTech Medical said: “Inhalational anaesthetic gases are vital for putting patients to sleep for operations, but they come with an environmental cost. Approximately 95% of the volatile anaesthetic used during a procedure is released into the atmosphere as highly polluting waste gas.”
Bupa says preventing the release and environmental pollution caused by anaesthetic gases is a priority for it under its Scope 1 carbon emissions reduction target, and in September this year SageTech Medical signed a five-year contract with Cromwell Hospital to prevent the release of over 160 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (t/CO2e) annually across the hospital’s operating theatre complex.
The company said: “During an operation, just 5 per cent of volatile anaesthetic agents are absorbed and metabolised by the patient, leaving 95 per cent to be exhaled and released into the atmosphere as waste. Once exhaled, waste volatile anaesthetics are present for a long time, and subsequently have high global warming potentials. These gases cause climate change by trapping heat. Over a 20-year period (GWP20), volatile anaesthetic gases sevoflurane, isoflurane, and desflurane, have an impact of 508, 1,401, and 3,714 times that of carbon dioxide, respectively. This equates to around 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions each year in the UK alone.”
The adoption of SageTech Medical’s solution was made possible through Bupa’s ‘eco-Disruptive’ programme, which sees employees partner with sustainability start-ups to tackle environmental challenges. In January 2023, SageTech Medical was announced as one of six global finalists in the programme, which aimed to identify and support ‘sustainable, scalable start-ups and innovative solutions that will improve people’s health and the health of the planet’. SageTech Medical was chosen from over 250 sustainable technology start-ups worldwide, which accelerated urgent action by Bupa to address the waste anaesthetic pollution at its Cromwell Hospital. The partnership between SageTech Medical and Cromwell Hospital was then solidified with a successful two-month trial earlier this year.
“It’s wonderful to see this partnership between Cromwell Hospital and SageTech Medical grow after such a successful trial,” said Anna Russell, Sustainability director for Bupa Global & UK. “It’s imperative that we’re taking these steps to reduce our carbon footprint, and recycling anaesthetic waste gases is an essential part of this. Working with start-ups allows us to access new solutions that will make healthcare better, while helping us continue working towards our sustainability targets.”
SageTech Medical says it offers ‘a safe, sustainable, and easy-to-use circular economy solution’ to tackle the problem of pollution from waste volatile anaesthetic gases. This captures these waste anaesthetic agents and then recycles them back into reusable anaesthetic. It explained: “Waste anaesthetic agent breathed out by patients during operations is safely adsorbed onto a specially developed filter contained inside a reusable SID-Can capture canister. Two SID-Can filters are housed inside a SID-Dock capture machine that integrates simply and safely into operating theatres, without having to make changes to existing equipment.
“When full, the SID-Cans are collected from the hospital and emptied at regional SID-Hub facilities before being returned to hospitals for reuse. The recovered waste anaesthetic is then recycled, ready to be used again. The waste volatile anaesthetic can be repeatedly recycled and reused.”
“Clinicians are becoming more and more aware of the impact that their clinical practice is having on the environment, “ said Mehnuhlik Lynch, Anaesthetic Team leader and Theatre Projects Transformation lead at Cromwell Hospital (pictured left, with SageTech Medical head of Stakeholder Engagement, Dr Matt Gopal). “Using SageTech Medical’s solution, we can help reduce the carbon footprint of anaesthesia, and give patients a greener choice for their healthcare. We’re really excited to be implementing this ground-breaking technology at Cromwell Hospital.”
SageTech Medical’s capture technology will be deployed across the hospital’s theatre complex, capturing the waste anaesthetic gas, sevoflurane – the dominant anaesthetic gas in use globally.