The climate crisis and clinical practice

02/12/2020 | The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM)

What we know about the health effects of climate change is just the tip of the iceberg, according to our research fellow and emergency medicine physician Dr. Renee Salas in her article, “The Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice,” published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

It’s critical for hospitals and medical professionals to adapt health care delivery to climate change. Implementing solutions will require stakeholders across disciplines to strategize, share best practices, and learn from health professionals and systems that have already been threatened by climate change.

Climate changes health and also the ways climate change has made it more challenging for clinicians to do their jobs. For instance:

    • New norms in extreme heat eliciting a need for better heat warning alerts, emergency room protocols, and clinician education

    • Rising pollen levels and longer allergy seasons impacting allergies and asthma

    • Natural disasters disrupting treatment for chemotherapy or dialysis

    • Increasing CO2 levels decreasing the nutritional value of food

    • Extreme heat impacting heat-sensitive medication, such as albuterol inhalers

    • Regional changes in vector-borne diseases like lyme disease and west nile virus

    • Increasing risk of infectious diseases in warming temperatures

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Dr. Renee Salas

Renee N. Salas MD, MPH, MS

Renee's work focuses on the intersection of the climate crisis, health, and healthcare delivery.

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