Smoke-free operating rooms are coming to Rhode Island hospitals and surgical centers in April 2019 thanks to new legislation signed into law by Governor Gina Raimondo this summer. The groundbreaking mandate makes Rhode Island the nation’s first state to legally tackle the hazards of surgical smoke, and leaves surgical staff in other states questioning when similar legislation will pass in their states.
According to Outpatient Surgery magazine, approximately 500,000 surgeons and other surgical team members are exposed to the carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and various trace toxic gases produced by electrosurgical smoke. Over time, exposure to the hazardous plume can lead to fatal respiratory illnesses.
Both the Rhode Island State Nurses Association and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) advocated on behalf of the legislation passing, providing firsthand accounts of the dangers of surgical smoke through testimony.
“There are no specific standards for laser and electrosurgery plume hazards,” said Danielle Glover, manager of AORN Government Affairs. “Instead, the safety policies have been left to the facilities and, nationwide, too few have taken action to protect their healthcare workers. We hope Rhode Island’s proactive legislation will lead other states to follow suit.”
States like California and Colorado have unsuccessfully attempted to pass similar legislation. In California, legislation managed to pass the state senate, but was later vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown.
Despite the legislative setbacks in some states, the good news is hospitals and surgical centers don’t have to wait for their state to pass a law to be proactive about protecting the health of their surgical teams. They can install advanced surgical smoke evacuation and filtration systems that effectively capture airborne contaminants before they have a chance to cause harm.
For more information, read the full Outpatient Surgery article.
We want to hear from you!
Is surgical smoke still a problem in your operating room? Comment below to let us know what steps, if any, your facility is taking to reduce the risk of surgical smoke in OR.