FDA Educates Healthcare Professionals on Surgical Fire Danger

Posted on June 13, 2012

This week, the Food and Drug Administration is planning on educating people about a topic that not many probably stop to consider:  surgical fires.

The safety organization plans to hold a webinar in order to address this very important issue.  The FDA has estimated that 550 to 650 fires on average occur every year in a surgical setting.  Back in October, the agency decided to begin an education campaign targeting those in the healthcare field on how they can prevent such situations from happening.

There are three critical factors that must be in place in order for a fire to take place in a surgical procedure.  The first is an oxidizer, typically in the form of nitrous oxide or oxygen.  Then, there must be some sort of ignition source.  These can be all too prevalent in surgical settings, taking the form of drills, lasers, and various cauterizing devices.  Finally, surgical fires require some sort of fuel to fan the flames, so to speak.  This can include drapes, sponges, or even tracheal tubes.

Typically, the saturation of oxygen in a typical surgical environment is to blame for the rapid spread of a fire.  Many people mistakenly place the blame on alcohol in many fire situations, when in fact it accounts for a scant 4% of fires.

Anyone interested in learning more can take part in the FDA’s webinar.

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