Our mission is to help healthcare providers create safer operating rooms by implementing a surgical smoke plume evacuation system.
Recent studies show that the smoke plume produced during electro-surgery exposes operating room staff and patients to hazardous airborne particles, gasses, and toxins, including some containing known carcinogens and viruses. They’ve also discovered that a regular surgical mask is ineffective in filtering out most of these harmful byproducts.
Surgical smoke is a unique challenge for those in perioperative care. Many healthcare professionals both inside and outside of the OR may not fully understand the importance of surgical smoke evacuation. Despite the scope of this problem, there is limited awareness about the negative impacts of surgical plume.
The most common misconception is that PPE is sufficient or even intended for protection from surgical smoke. Lack of appropriate respiratory protection and LEV underscores a need for employer and worker education and training concerning appropriate exposure controls for surgical smoke
“My surgeons don’t seem to think it’s an issue. Why should we enact a plume evacuation process?”
Surgeons are regularly exposed to surgical smoke plumes, but their shifts in the operating rooms are not usually as long, nor are they typically served consecutively. Conversely, OR Nurses, surgical techs, anesthesiologists, and other members of the operating room staff are exposed to the toxic hazards of surgical smoke plumes for much longer periods of time and on a more regular basis. Some scholars believe that this is the reason OR nurses experience respiratory illness and infection at a rate twice as high as the national average.
Still, more than 90% of respondents in a CDC study indicated that surgical masks were the only form of surgical smoke hazard prevention used in the OR, which is insufficient to protect against respiratory illness. Although PPE is an important feature for the sterility and safety of the operating room, studies have shown that many of the ultra-fine particles found in surgical smoke are too small for masks such as the N95. Masks cannot filter out the active virions and bacteria that are carried in the smoke either. Unlike fluid contaminates, vaporized or particulate matter is small enough to go through masks.
While these are important elements of infection control and sterilization in the OR, they do not offer adequate protection from the negative health impacts associated with surgical smoke.
As more states mandate legislature, Hospitals and Ambulatory Surgical Centers (ASCs) can expect more scrutiny of their surgical smoke policies and procedures in future audits. To meet the requirements of these new standards, hospitals and ASCs must equip every operating room with a surgical smoke evacuation system and related equipment.
Several studies have identified carcinogenic ultrafine particles (UFP) in smoke produced by various energy-generating surgical tools. Other harmful substances found in these plumes include
- Viable bacterium such as Staphylococcus aureus, Neisseria, and Corynebacterium
- Infectious aerosols such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB)
- Transmittable cells of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) Hepatitis B (HBV)
- Toxic gases such as, benzene, formaldehyde, methane, carbon monoxide, and hydrogen cyanide
Without epidemiological data, the exact impact of electrocautery smoke on surgical personnel and patients remains unclear. Although debates about the specific impacts of surgical smoke persist, healthcare professionals can make several useful and actionable inferences from existing literature, such as:
- The lack of awareness about the dangers of surgical smoke is evidenced by the lack of educational resources and training. This results in low compliance with recommended procedures for evacuating smoke from the OR 9.
- Further research is needed about the potency or communicability of viable cells in particulate matter such as surgical vapor1. However, this does not prevent healthcare providers and institutional bodies from taking steps to protect patients and personnel from surgical pollutants
- Best practice dictates that many electrosurgical and ultrasonic procedures must include a smoke evacuation system or related policies in order to provide the safest and most effective quality of care1.
- Given these points, it is necessary to equip healthcare providers and researchers with the resources to adequately train perioperative personnel and investigate the long-term effects of surgical smoke through large-scale epidemiological studies.
There’s no excuse for surgical smoke in the OR in 2021.
The Center for Disease control recommends several guidelines for effective surgical smoke evacuation. Further, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Joint Commission have issued multiple documents outlining best practices for mitigating the hazards of surgical smoke plumes.
While these policies may not have the teeth of a federally-mandated OSHA standard, they do offer appropriate guidelines for the safe evacuation of surgical smoke in the operating room.
Having a smoke evacuation policy helps perioperative professionals identify hazardous sources of surgical plume (even when it is not visible), set-up effective engineering controls, and maintain sterile conditions in the operating room. These guidelines are meant to mitigate risk according to level of efficacy, as determined by the CDC Hierarchy of Hazards
Disposable vs. Reusable Attachments
Smaller hospitals and ASCs often make use of disposable attachments in order to cut-down on procedure turn-over time and perioperative staff. Furthermore, the CDC and Joint Commission both recommend disposable attachments wherever possible in order to mitigate sources of contamination and infection. This includes surgical smoke evacuation systems.
A common misconception about the benefits of reusable attachments is that they help hospitals cut back on waste. However, sanitization is a costly and often wasteful process. This is especially true when it comes to tools that require chemical sterilization. Of course, this depends largely on the type of surgery center, the volume of procedures, and the risk of infection associated with those procedures. Evidence-based purchasing requires that each facility determine the most appropriate allocation of resources when it comes to disposal vs. sanitization.
Get Started With A Plume Evacuation System Today
If you’re ready to get started with a surgical plume evacuation system today, fill out this form to try the Saf-T-Vac smoke & fluid evacuator for free. The Safe-T-Vac is designed with you and your staff in mind to make implementing a smoke evacuation process easy. Our device is simple and effective, making it inexpensive and easy to implement using your preferred surgical equipment.
The Saf-T-Vac is a novel surgical smoke & fluid evacuator that suctions at the source of these harmful byproducts before they become airborne. The Saf-T-Vac works well with your faculty’s favorite equipment, featuring a universal suction adapter that plugs into any available O.R. suction source. It has a patented dual-action, anti-clogging tip which attaches and works well with all standard short or extended electrodes, providing precise, worry-free cauterization. With a sleek, unobtrusive design, the surgeon maintains a clear field of vision and comfort when performing surgery.
Unlike many competitors, the Saf-T-Vac has a truly ergonomic design, is easy to set-up, and does not impede the surgeon’s dexterity or field of vision. It is both inexpensive and disposable, saving time and money.
Plus There is No Capital Investment!
The Saf-T-Vac is also considerably less expensive per procedure and requires no capital investment to begin using. Because the Saf-T-Vac works with all O.R. suction units and bovie pens, there is no need to be buy additional equipment.
This single-use, disposable smoke evacuator can save a facility 67% per procedure.
The Saf-T-Vac is a simple device comprised of three parts: (1) the Saf-T-Vac device, which includes the universal suction tubing adapter, the proprietary designed suction tip and the suction tube. (2) The helix retention attachment which helps keep the tubing in close proximity to the electro-scalpel handle and allow for the perfect positioning of the suction tubing by the surgeon. (3) The electrode adapter is used when using a needle tip electrode in the electro-scalpel. It is a silicone sleeve that is placed over the needle tip and then inserted into the tip of the Saf-T-Vac.