Operation Clean Air: Implementing a Surgical Smoke Evacuation Program

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Surgical smoke is a hazardous byproduct of any surgery involving a laser or an electrosurgical unit. Although research and professional organizations identified surgical smoke as harmful many years ago, this byproduct continues to be a safety hazard in the OR. An interdisciplinary team at a large academic medical center sought to address the exposure of patients and perioperative team members to surgical smoke. The team used the nursing process to resolve the lack of smoke-evacuator equipment and surgical smoke staff member knowledge. To increase awareness of the hazards of surgical smoke, we gave presentations to nursing staff members and surgeons, who then completed educational modules. We conducted audits in all ORs to monitor compliance. The use of smoke evacuation supplies has more than quadrupled since education began. Additional unit-based education continues every day and is a constant reminder that safety is the responsibility of all perioperative team members.

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