"Change With the Times": The Practice of Nuclear Medicine in the Time of Climate Change

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Journal of Nuclear Medicine




Background: Climate change continues to be a growing issue that has already impacted the delivery of medicine. Its effects directly impact the health of patients and communities and has led to an increase in the frequency severe weather events such as floods, hurricanes, wildfires, extreme temperatures, famines, and draught. As the world around us changes, Nuclear Medicine departments must consider the impacts of climate change in strategic plans and incorporate strategies for sustainability and resiliency.

Objectives: Discuss the specific impacts of climate change on the practice of Nuclear Medicine, including increases in disease incidence and the increase in frequency of severe weather events Highlight the importance of incorporating environmental considerations into management strategies within Nuclear Medicine. Provide successful examples from healthcare exemplars. •Discuss supply chain stability of medical radioisotopes in the US, particularly Technetium-99 and Yttrium-90, and potential disruptions due to climate change Highlight the strategic advantages of planning for environmental events, such as improved agility, financial stability, decreases in patient delays, and reliability of imaging services. •Discuss sustainability initiatives within Nuclear Medicine, and how they can provide cost savings while also increasing resiliency. Highlight the opportunity to act as good stewards and to “do no harm” within our communities. Results: Healthcare systems have already begun to feel the effects of climate change, and many practice leaders have enacted policies to prepare for a future with increasing environmental uncertainty. Planning for the effects of climate change should begin now if Nuclear Medicine practices hope to be prepared. Incorporating strategies for sustainability and resiliency within Nuclear Medicine practices will help practices adapt to the effects of climate change, and also helps to create a more stable practice environment. Continued advocacy by practice leaders to implement climate focused policies can help minimize the impact of Nuclear Medicine within our communities, help improve the health of our patients, and show the field as a leader against climate change. Conclusions: Nuclear Medicine practices should consider the effects of climate change within their long-term management plans and begin incorporating policies that improve sustainability and resiliency for an uncertain climate future. Resources:1.Fourt D, Poirier C. Healthcare and Climate Change: Do No Harm. hcq. 2016;19(3):37-43. doi:10.12927/hcq.2016.247912.Chen A, Murthy V. 2019. How Health Systems Are Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change. Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2019/09/how-health-systems-are-meeting-the-challenge-of-climate-change3.Phua, PhD K-L. Redesigning healthcare systems to meet the health challenges associated with climate change in the twenty-first century. JEM. 2015;13(3):255. doi:10.5055/jem.2015.02394.Chatzipavlidou V. 2020. A new era for nuclear medicine. Hell J Nucl Med 2020; 23(1): 2-3 5.Ruth TJ. The Medical Isotope Crisis: How We Got Here and Where We Are Going. Journal of Nuclear Medicine Technology. 2014;42(4):245-248. doi:10.2967/jnmt.114.1446426. Ramanathan V, Haines A. Healthcare professionals must lead on climate change. BMJ. Published online October 4, 2016:i5245. doi:10.1136/bmj.i5245