Practice Advisory Addresses Operating Room Fires

Anesthesiologists urged to adopt strategies that either prevent such fires or minimize their impact

THURSDAY, April 24(HealthDay News) -- Appropriate strategies can help prevent or manage operating room fires, which are estimated to occur in the United States 50 to 200 times each year and can result in serious injury or death, according to a practice advisory published in the May issue of Anesthesiology.

Robert A. Caplan, M.D., of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle and colleagues from the American Society of Anesthesiologists Task Force on Operating Room Fires identified situations conducive to operating room fires, methods that can either prevent or reduce the adverse outcomes associated with fires, and elements of a fire-response protocol.

The authors said all anesthesiologists should have fire safety education, become knowledgeable about the risks posed by an oxidizer-enriched atmosphere and participate in regular fire drills. They also strongly agreed that anesthesiologists should agree on how fires should be prevented and managed for each particular procedure they perform.

"Prevention of OR fires includes (1) minimizing or avoiding an oxidizer-enriched atmosphere near the surgical site, (2) safely managing ignition sources, and (3) safely managing fuels," the authors write. "Management of OR fires includes (1) recognizing the early signs of fire, (2) halting the procedure, (3) making appropriate attempts to extinguish the fire, (4) following an evacuation protocol when medically appropriate, and (5) delivering post-fire care to the patient."

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