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Is surgical smoke the most overlooked hazard in operating theatres?

The Association for Perioperative Practice (AfPP) has launched an anonymous survey in a bid to better understand the health risks associated with exposure to surgical smoke plume, and the policies currently in place to minimise these risks within UK.

Lindsay Keely, Patient Safety and Quality Lead at AfPP, explained: “All healthcare professionals working in the perioperative environment are exposed to surgical plume. As an association, we feel this is one of the most overlooked hazards in the operating theatre. Inhalation of surgical plume caused by energy-based device emissions can adversely affect the respiratory systems of theatre staff, patients and visitors.

“We have been campaigning to raise awareness of the risks associated with surgical smoke plume for years. We’ve created and distributed safety information resources, spoken at conferences, started petitions and recently collaborated with the USA-based International Council on Surgical Plume (ICSP) to form the Surgical Plume Alliance.

“Despite this work – and studies identifying toxins, carcinogens, blood borne pathogens, prions, viable cells, viruses and bacteria in surgical smoke plume – we still regularly hear anecdotal evidence that hospitals aren’t using surgical smoke plume evacuation units or appropriate PPE.” 

The charity believes that by gathering first-hand data from those working in the theatre environment, they can further their efforts to get evacuation devices mandated in all operating theatres and procedural rooms across the NHS and independent sector.

Dawn Stott, CEO at AfPP, added: “Preliminary results from a sample of our survey responses so far demonstrate the scale of the issue surrounding surgical smoke plume. 94% are concerned about risks to their health, 39% have not received any training on the hazards associated with exposure and only 17% can confirm that there is a local policy for surgical plume management within their organisation.

“AfPP exist to progress safer surgery, patient and staff safety is at the heart of everything we do. We will be using the full results of this survey to push for change. The exact nature of that change will be based on what our members and the wider perioperative community tell us they need – from educational resources and training to lobbying for nationwide policy changes.”

Everyone working in operating theatres, in any capacity, is invited to complete the anonymous online survey here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/J2VC97R by 31 December 2021.

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Upcoming Events

BSG LIVE 22

ICC, Birmingham
20th – 23rd June 2022

EBME Expo 2022

Coventry Building Society Arena, Phoenix Way, Rowleys Green, Coventry CV6 6GE
28th - 29th June

Infection 360: What's trending in infection prevention & control

Edgbaston Stadium, Birmingham
27-28 September 2022

IP2022 IS COMING TO BOURNEMOUTH IN OCTOBER 2022

Bournemouth
17-19 October 2022

UKHCA Conference: Listen Up

Pendulum Hotel and Manchester Conference Centre, Manchester
3rd November 2022

MEDICA 2022

Dusseldorf Germany
14th November - 17th November

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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