Surgical fires are a rare complication of surgical procedures--occurring roughly 50 to 100 times per year out of the 50 million surgeries performed in the U.S.--but they can have devastating results. In the past this problem hasn't gotten a lot of attention. Now, however, the American Society of Anesthesiologists plans to issue its first set of guidelines designed to prevent such fires.
While there's no aggregate data available on these fires, the association believes they've become more common as the use of lasers and electric tools have increased. These fires typically are caused when oxygen builds up under surgical drapes and sparked by electric surgical tools. Critics say anesthesiologists are also too prone to use 100 percent oxygen.
The new guidelines would require anesthesiologists to lower the concentration of oxygen given to patients, reconfigure drapes to cut down on oxygen build-up and use suction devices to take out excess oxygen.
To learn more about these guidelines:
- read this Associated Press article
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