Each year, an estimated 500,000 workers, including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists, and surgical technologists, are exposed to laser or electrosurgical smoke. Although the long term effects for healthcare workers exposed to surgical smoke remains unknown, there is a need to be proactive and prevent any potential harm.
Perioperative professionals and patients are routinely exposed to surgical smoke, plume, and aerosols produced by instruments used to dissect tissue, provide hemostasis, and drill or saw bones. These surgical devices include lasers, electrosurgical units, ultrasonic units, cautery units, and high speed drills and burrs. Anything that produces heat can produce smoke or aerosols. Smoke and aerosol generating procedures can pose health risks.
Engineering controls and personal protective equipment should be used to protect all staff and patients from exposure to smoke byproducts. Understanding the environmental hazards related to surgical smoke and aerosols produced during all operative and invasive procedures is a critical first step in the implementation of adequate protective measures for both patients and perioperative personnel.
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