A Journey through End-of-Life Medicine in Search of Sustainable Healthcare
Every day, thousands of people walk through the door of their local hospital in search of medical care, a seemingly simple action that has a number of unintended effects on the environment and public health. Every resource used to deliver medical care—intravenous tubing, the medication flowing through the tube, or the electricity powering the IV pump that controls the drug's flow—affects workers and the environment, either directly or indirectly. These negative outcomes of medical care raise an ethical dilemma and irony that to improve the health of individual patients, we may negatively affect human health on a global scale through pollution, ecosystem degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate instability.
In Dying Green, award-winning educator Christine Vatovec offers two intertwined stories that ask us to consider the environmental sustainability of healthcare broadly, and in particular, how clinical practices and medical decision-making drive the unintended consequences of medicine. Through an engaging comparative analysis of the care provided to terminally ill patients in a conventional cancer ward, a palliative care unit, and an acute-care hospice facility, this book shows how decisions made at the patient bedside govern the environmental footprint of the healthcare industry. Likewise, Dying Green offers insights on the many opportunities that exist for reducing the environmental impacts of medical practices in general, while also enhancing care for the dying. By envisioning an approach to care that includes the broader outcomes of medicine, this book offers a way forward that is better for both patients and the planet.
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