Risk of Injury in Irish Hospitals from Surgical Smoke to Patients, Nurses, and Surgeons continues.
Surgical smoke is a hazardous substance that can be inhaled during surgery by operating healthcare professionals. When using rapid mechanical devices and heat producing devices, gaseous by-products known as surgical smoke are generated. It is produced when surgical devices such as lasers, electro surgical units, ultrasonic units, cautery units and high – speed drills are used in surgeries. In 85% of surgical procedures heat- producing equipment is used in patients for dissection to stop bleeding. One of the dangers faced by health professionals, and in particular operating room staff, is surgical smoke, also known as diathermy plume, which has been increasingly linked to serious health problems. .
Worryingly, there are also concerns as surgical smoke can transmit infection such as live viruses or bacteria.
Several studies have shown that the concentration of surgical smoke generated by devices during laparoscopic surgery is higher than during open surgery. Surgical smoke contains a variety of toxic substances including benzene and formaldehyde which are recognised as being harmful to humans.
Surgical smoke can cause harm to people and can lead to irritation of the eyes and skin, acute headaches or allergic rhinitis in hospital operating room staff. It can also increase the risk the risk of chronic lung conditions such as occupational asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Research has shown that operating room nurses are at higher risk of severe persistent asthma then other nurses.
Healthcare professionals such be protected from surgical smoke by having the right equipment within the operating room as standard. Only a few EU countries have taken decisive action to protect staff working in operating rooms from the risks of surgical smoke. Denmark is ahead in this area having introduced legislation to protect healthcare professionals from harmful smoke in the workplace.
Face masks and ventilation systems such as laminar air flow central suction systems are widely used. Laminar air flow is a type of ventilation system used in operating rooms where air is channelled in one direction over the operating site, mainly to prevent infections.
For further information please contact Liam Moloney Solicitor
Email Liam Moloney@moloneysolictors.ie
Mobile – 087 2726759
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