Recommendations to Reduce Surgical Fires and Patient Injury

Interviewer: Lauri R. Graham; Interviewee: Lila Bahadori, MD


May 29, 2018

Editorial Collaboration

Medscape &

Fire-Management Practice Drills

Medscape: In its safety communication, the FDA recommends that all healthcare professionals and staff involved in surgical procedures plan and have regular practice drills on how to manage a surgical fire. Are there resources to help personnel plan and implement these drills?

Bahadori: ECRI provides information on surgical fire prevention and also offers webinars.

In general, all hospitals should conduct regularly scheduled safety drills and have a communication protocol in place. If an institution conducts only one fire drill a year, the staff might not be as well prepared to deal with a true emergency.

Our goal is to ensure that safety and prevention policies are in place at all hospitals, ambulatory centers, and any other site in which these devices are used. Also, many surgical procedures are not performed in hospitals but in ambulatory surgical centers. It is important not to assume that these surgeries only occur in the hospital setting, especially because many are performed on an outpatient basis.

The purpose of our recommendations is to ensure that there is ongoing communication and education for all involved personnel. We would like to emphasize that communication and education allow staff to prepare for and manage unexpected events when they occur. Many of the unexpected emergencies could be averted with proper preparation and education.

Suggested Resources 

ECRI Institute: Surgical Fire Prevention

Council on Surgical & Perioperative Safety (CSPS): Safe Surgery Resources

Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF): Resources – Fire Safety Video

Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN): Fire Safety Tool Kit

Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) – The SAGES Manual on the Fundamental Use of Surgical Energy (FUSE)