Objectives: We reviewed the English-language literature on the energy burden and environmental impact of health services.
Methods: We searched all years of the PubMed, CINAHL, and ScienceDirect databases for publications reporting energy consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, or the environmental impact of health-related activities. We extracted and tabulated data to enable cross-comparisons among different activities and services; where possible, we calculated per patient or per event emissions.
Results: We identified 38 relevant publications. Per patient or per event, health-related energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions are quite modest; in the aggregate, however, they are considerable. In England and the United States, health-related emissions account for 3% and 8% of total national emissions, respectively.
Conclusions: Although reducing health-related energy consumption and emissions alone will not resolve all of the problems of energy scarcity and climate change, it could make a meaningful contribution.