FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Smoke may not be something the average person considers before going in for a surgical procedure, but the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports surgical smoke inhalation may be hazardous to patients and members of the surgical team breathing it in.
“Surgical smoke is the result of the interaction of human tissue with mechanical tools and/or heat producing devices used to stop bleeding or make incisions,” said Maj. Kristine Lee, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital's clinical nurse officer in charge of the hospital’s operating rooms.
Lee said these devices create the smoke which may contain ultra-fine particles, toxic compounds, and cancer cells.
“It has over 150 identified hazardous chemicals, and is the equivalent of smoking 30 unfiltered cigarettes per day,” explained Lee.
This inspired the hospital’s Department of Surgery team to make their operating rooms smoke free, earning them the “Go Clear Surgical Smoke Free Award” from the Association of Perioperative Nurses.
“This award recognizes the team for maintaining a surgical smoke free environment to protect patients and staff. I’m extremely proud of our team for their initiative and perseverance to ensure our ORs are safe while providing high quality care to our patients,” said Col. Vincent B. Myers, Blanchfield’s commander.
Lee said the OR underwent a six month journey to achieve a smoke-free environment.
“We started with a gap analysis, and assessed current smoke evacuation processes within our OR. We evaluated different smokeless bovie and suction device options, and identified products that worked well for staff and surgeons,” Lee said.
Perioperative and anesthesia staff underwent training and education, which included pre-testing, educational modules on the hazards of surgical smoke, and post-tests. Staff then received hands-on training on the new devices.
“Daily audits were performed for three months after initial implementation to monitor compliance,” said Lee.
As a result of these efforts, the hospital was recognized by AORN and awarded the Gold award status due to successful implementation and 100% usage and compliance across its surgical services.