Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Anesthesia: Dr. Elizabeth Hansen’s Inspiring Work - UW Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine

Dr. Elizabeth Hansen, Assistant Professor of Pediatric Anesthesiology and Pediatric Pain Medicine at Seattle Children’s, leads efforts to reduce the environmental impact of anesthesia care. She co-chairs the Society for Pediatric Anesthesia Sustainability Special Interest Group and serves as principal investigator of Project SPRUCE Forest, a multidisciplinary consortium that focuses on minimizing waste, optimizing anesthesia care and reducing emissions from anesthetic gases. 

Under Dr. Hansen’s leadership, Children’s has reduced greenhouse gas emissions associated with anesthesia by 87% as compared to five years ago. Dr. Hansen has also encouraged other pediatric hospitals to join the initiative, enabling them to reduce their environmental footprint. So far, 18 consortium hospitals nationwide and internationally have adopted her innovative techniques and teachings, successfully saving 2 million kilograms of carbon. She is currently developing a comprehensive plan to help adult hospitals adopt sustainable practices, further expanding the impact of her work. 

Earlier this year, Dr. Hansen discussed the healthcare industry’s detrimental effects on the climate crisis on the “Urban Tumbleweed” podcast, in an episode titled “More Than Greenhouse Gases.” She also presented at the department’s weekly Grand Rounds on “Healthcare Impacts on Climate Crisis and the Role of Anesthesiology,” where she explained ways to identify the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions and the rationale behind reducing these anesthesia-related emissions within hospital systems.  

Through her work, Dr. Hansen embodies UW Medicine’s values, demonstrating a commitment to excellence, collaboration, and environmental responsibility, and driving innovation in the field of anesthesiology by inspiring healthcare professionals to prioritize sustainability and environmental stewardship.