Sustainability seeks to balance and simultaneously optimize environmental, social and financial concerns. Sustainability in healthcare represents a particularly challenging undertaking as it necessarily encompasses the wide variety of facilities, operations and activities in a typical healthcare organization. As policymakers seek to rein in escalating health care costs, one area deserving attention is health systems' costly environmental footprint.
As investment in health care increases around the world, there is considerable potential for increasing harm to health from pollution and environmental change. People who are harmed by the environmental footprint of healthcare often live far away from those who benefit from the healthcare provided. Doctors and other health sector leaders have a practical and ethical responsibility to measure, monitor and address the environmental footprint of health care.