PainRelief.com Interview with:
Dr Clifford L Shelton
Consultant Anaesthetist, Wythenshawe Hospital
Senior Clinical Lecturer, Lancaster Medical School (Director of Simulation and Skills)
Executive Editor, Anaesthesia Reports
Deputy Chair of PCPIE, National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia Health Services Research Centre
Dr. Annie Pinder
North West School of Anaesthesia,
Health Education England North West, Manchester, UK
PainRelief.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Inhaled nitrous oxide is the most commonly-used pain relief for labour in the UK – used by an estimated 77% of women in labour. However, it has a high ‘carbon footprint’ and depletes the ozone layer so healthcare organisations must take steps to reduce its release. Previous works have also noted high levels of nitrous oxide in the work environment of midwives working on labour ward, which can have health implications.
In Scandinavia, nitrous oxide ‘cracking’ technology has been used for several years to address these concerns and this has recently become available in the UK – however, there is little available effectiveness of the technology in the clinical workplace. We previously conducted a bench experiment to assess the ability of cracking technology to reduce ambient nitrous oxide concentrations under ideal circumstances and found a substantial improvement when the technology was in place. However, controlled experimental situations are not representative of real-life.
In this study we therefore aimed to assess whether ambient nitrous oxide levels would be reduced when the technology was implemented on the low-risk birth centre of a typical UK maternity hospital.