Surgical smoke: Improving Veteran safety in the operating room

Surgical smoke is the unwanted by-product of energy-generating devices that are used in 90 percent of all surgeries. Its contents include toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide, as well as viruses, bacteria, blood and cancer cells. 

Studies compare the inhalation of smoke from vaporized human tissue to the smoke created by 27-30 cigarettes.

Gulf Coast VA is the first and only health care system in Mississippi to receive the Gold Level Go Clear Award for its achievement in eliminating hazardous smoke from its surgical procedures.

The Go Clear Award is presented by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) to recognize health care facilities across the nation that have committed to providing increased surgical patient and health care worker safety.

Large group of VA employees with award
Working together to improve the safety and surgical outcomes for our Veterans.

They do this by implementing practices that eliminate smoke caused by the use of lasers and electrosurgery devices during surgery.

“Why our Veterans choose VA.”

“I am so proud of our clinical and administrative teams who worked together to improve the safety and surgical outcomes for our Veterans,” said Dr. Stephanie Repasky, interim medical center director. “This is a shining example of why we are the best health care system for our Veterans and why our Veterans will continue to choose VA.”

Working together to improve the safety and surgical outcomes for our Veterans

Operating Room Nurses Sheena Strong and Kristin Mate submitted a project to the VHA Innovators Network Spark-Seed-Spread Investment Program, titled “Greening the Operating Room: One Wrapper at a Time.”

The project consisted of a three-tier approach to improve the environment and safety within the operating room for Veterans and staff.

The project included:

  • The recycling of recyclable materials
  • Implementation of closed fluid management devices
  • The mandate of surgical smoke evacuation devices

“An honor to provide world class health care to our Veterans”

The VHA Innovators Network assisted with implementation and funding of the smoke evacuation and fluid management devices. All three initiatives have been successfully implemented.

Kristi Antonucci, peri-operative registered nurse, and the operating room team, successfully completed the final steps to achieve the AORN Go Clear Award. This was achieved by extensive team education and training performed by Antonucci and the OR team.

“I wanted to initiate a project that would benefit our Veterans and our team,” said Mate. “It truly is an honor to be able to provide world class health care to our nation’s heroes. I am proud that I was able to make that care even better!”

About the VHA Innovators Network

The VHA’s Innovators Network was launched in 2015 to build and empower a community of VHA front-line employees who actively move the organization forward by innovation.

The VHA Innovation Network’s (iNET) Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program is an initiative designed to employ a diverse range of practices using innovation to deliver a better experience for Veterans, their caregivers and VA employees. Check out the VHA Innovators Network website to learn more. 

Related Articles

5 Essential Frameworks for Preventing Violent Child Death

The U.S. has a violent child death problem. Developing strategies to prevent violent child deaths death from firearms and traffic crashes is a demanding task that requires consideration of numerous upstream, interrelated, and tangential issues. To help safety advocates develop strategies to prevent violent child death, we compiled five frameworks to help: Understand and explain …
The post 5 Essential Frameworks for Preventing Violent Child Death appeared first on Salud America.

We Need to Recognize Toxic Stress as a Health Condition with Clinical Implications

There is a common health condition with serious medical consequences that has not been nationally recognized by the medical or public health community—toxic stress response. Toxic stress is the body’s response to prolonged trauma─like abuse or discrimination─with no support. It can harm lifelong mental, physical, and behavioral health, especially for Latinos and others of color. …
The post We Need to Recognize Toxic Stress as a Health Condition with Clinical Implications appeared first on Salud America.

What Are the Risk and Protective Factors for Violent Child Death?

Gun violence and traffic crashes may seem like unpredictable events. But they are not random. They are systematic. Data reveal trends and patterns in gun violence and traffic crashes that can help us identify risk factors and protective factors. This is especially important for addressing violent child deaths. So what does the data show? Join …
The post What Are the Risk and Protective Factors for Violent Child Death? appeared first on Salud America.

How a Smoke-Free Policy Protects Apartment Tenants from Secondhand Smoke, COVID-19

Does someone smoke in your apartment complex? You might be inhaling your neighbor’s secondhand smoke. Inside multifamily dwellings, secondhand smoke can travel through doorways, halls, windows, ventilation systems, electrical outlets, and gaps around fixtures and pipes. Secondhand smoke, already a cancer-causing killer of millions, also might contribute to the spread of coronavirus. While there is …
The post How a Smoke-Free Policy Protects Apartment Tenants from Secondhand Smoke, COVID-19 appeared first on Salud America.