No doubt you have missed my ramblings these past few weeks but my focus has shifted to sales efforts that emphasized the education of clinicians regarding the current arguments for why they should prioritize smoke removal from the operating room. No surprises there!
As I presented my power point slides or had simple one-on-one conversations that included words like “nanoparticles” and “bacterial aerosols,” puzzled looks appeared that said, “What are you talking about?”
What has clearly emerged from these contacts is that the usual smoke evacuation seminars have become stale and have failed to articulate compelling arguments for advancing the rationale for removal of the plume. However, as more current terms were explained and put in context with available technology and emerging research data, the frowns turned to smiles and bobbing heads as a new sense of understanding crystalized for them. This has been true for nurses, surgeons and, more recently, healthcare administrators as they started to realize the potential for huge financial liabilities related to future health-related disability claims from their employees, both nurses and doctors, the latter now often employed by the hospitals.
So what are these new points of awareness that are supported by independent laboratory testing and research? They include:
- Chronic inhalation of nanoparticles (80% of surgical plume) has been associated and/or causative of various diseases depending upon individual genetics, pre-existing illnesses and dose/duration of exposure. These illnesses include neurodegenerative diseases, cancers such as breast, prostate and pancreas, coronary artery disease and cardiac arrhythmias and collagen disease such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Blended electrosurgery can release the patient’s own bacteria into the plume where they remain viable and are dispersed along with the smoke.
- Effective smoke evacuation can prevent these bacterial aerosols as well as decrease the contamination of adjoining areas.
- The three primary smoke capture devices, the ‘wand,” the ESU “pencil,” and the reticulated cell foam device have very different smoke capture efficiencies depending upon their method of use and the connected smoke evacuator that produces the needed air flow volumes necessary for superior smoke capture.
- All available capture devices are relatively inexpensive but the cost/use can be dramatically decreased though the use of a central vacuum system that eliminates the need for ULPA filters.
- Consistent use of smoke removal technology will only occur through strong advocacy and acceptance of individual healthcare facility administrative policy and not through federal or state mandates.
After three (3) decades of defiance while other countries have accepted the obvious, that chronic inhalation of smoke is harmful and avoidable, isn’t it time we joined the movement to protect your personal health and that of the patients that you serve?