OBJECTIVES: Other medical specialties have studied how their practices influence the environment, but environmental impact studies in the field of dermatology remain limited . With respect to dermatology, vehicle emissions by patients traveling to and from appointments are an important factor influencing climate change . This study was undertaken to determine the greenhouse gas emissions avoided by managing isotretinoin virtually at West Virginia University Hospital .
METHODS: A retrospective cross-sectional study was conducted during the COVID-19 outbreak from March 25 to December 1 , 2020, where travel data were acquired and converted to emission data .
RESULTS : 5,137 kg of GHG emissions in CO2 equivalents were prevented by managing isotretinoin virtually during the study period . 49 400 kg of GHG emissions in CO2 equivalents would be prevented annually . This is the emission load released when 24 690 kg of coal are burned .
CONCLUSIONS: Environmental impact studies in the field of dermatology remain limited . GHG emissions were significantly reduced by virtually managing isotretinoin at a single institution . The practice of dermatology could reduce its carbon footprint by managing isotretinoin virtually, even in non-pandemic periods . Given that isotretinoin management represents a small percentage of the overall carbon footprint associated with dermatology, dermatologists should identify other conditions amenable to virtual medicine to produce greater environmental impact.