To the Editor:
Thank you for the vivid cover art from Maria Koijck and Eva Glasbeek1 that accompanied the pair of environmental pieces from McGain et al.2 and Struys and Eckleman3 in the December 2021 issue. While the discussion in the article2 and editorial3 of the carbon footprint of anesthesia help contextualize this issue, this cover art drives home the message in a striking fashion. Work such as McGain’s needs to be done to assess and document the impact of our current healthcare practices. Further work in this area must follow, expanding to consider better practices. Naturally, this must be done in partnership with our surgery and nursing colleagues. Hospital administrators, too, have an interest due to the cost and local regulations regarding recycling and waste management. McGain’s work is a phenomenal first step. Without actual knowledge, we will not know how to improve care for patients and the environment. However, if the world’s response to viruses and vaccines are any proof, many people struggle to comprehend scientific information. Thus, images like that on the December cover, which quickly conveys the heart of both McGain’s and Struys’ writing, are more than just welcomed: they are crucial. Visual media have been powerful agents of change in the past: recall the crying American Indian advertisement of the 1970s or the egg-and-skillet antidrug campaign of the 1980s. Koijck, laying in the epicenter of a circle of waste products, communicates our dilemma: the amount of waste from this single operation is staggering. It’s hard to imagine the amount of daily waste our operating rooms create. This image transitions from the personal to the wider situation. Images work quickly and can elicit emotive responses. For better or for worse, our world often responds more to images than to nuanced writing. Thus, while research and articles are paramount, a cover like this is a wonderful adjunct for promoting the message. Please continue to utilize art in the Journal!
Support was provided solely from institutional and/or departmental sources.
Dr. Hester reviews some submissions to the Mind to Mind section of Anesthesiology. The author declares no competing interests.