BACKGROUND: To assess patterns of injury and liability associated with operating room (OR) fires, closed malpractice claims in the American Society of Anesthesiologists Closed Claims Database since 1985 were reviewed.METHODS: All claims related to fires in the OR were compared with nonfire-related surgical anesthesia claims. An analysis of fire-related claims was performed to identify causative factors.RESULTS: There were 103 OR fire claims (1.9% of 5,297 surgical claims). Electrocautery was the ignition source in 90% of fire claims. OR fire claims more frequently involved older outpatients compared with other surgical anesthesia claims (P < 0.01). Payments to patients were more often made in fire claims (P < 0.01), but payment amounts were lower (median $120,166) compared to nonfire surgical claims (median $250,000, P < 0.01). Electrocautery-induced fires (n = 93) increased over time (P < 0.01) to 4.4% claims between 2000 and 2009. Most (85%) electrocautery fires occurred during head, neck, or upper chest procedures (high-fire-risk procedures). Oxygen served as the oxidizer in 95% of electrocautery-induced OR fires (84% with open delivery system). Most electrocautery-induced fires (n = 75, 81%) occurred during monitored anesthesia care. Oxygen was administered via an open delivery system in all high-risk procedures during monitored anesthesia care. In contrast, alcohol-containing prep solutions and volatile compounds were present in only 15% of OR fires during monitored anesthesia care.CONCLUSIONS: Electrocautery-induced fires during monitored anesthesia care were the most common cause of OR fires claims. Recognition of the fire triad (oxidizer, fuel, and ignition source), particularly the critical role of supplemental oxygen by an open delivery system during use of the electrocautery, is crucial to prevent OR fires. Continuing education and communication among OR personnel along with fire prevention protocols in high-fire-risk procedures may reduce the occurrence of OR fires.
While there are reports regarding burns occurring to patients during the surgery, there are little reports concerning the incidents of the burns related to neurosurgical operations. Moreover, in Korea, even surveys and statistics on the incidents of burns in operating rooms are not known. This report explores burns occurring to a patient in an electrocautery scenario after disinfecting the surgical site with alcohol during the preparation of a neurosurgical operation in an operating room where there is much exposure to oxygen. The authors show a case of a 33-year-old male patient who undergoing evacuation of hematoma on occipital lesion, suffered second degree burns as a result of surgical fires.
BACKGROUND: Instruments that apply energy to cut, coagulate, and dissect tissue with minimal bleeding facilitate surgery. The improper use of energy devices may increase patient morbidity and mortality. The current article reviews various energy sources in terms of their common uses and safe practices.METHODS: For the purpose of this review, a general search was conducted through NCBI, SpringerLink, and Google. Articles describing laparoscopic or minimally invasive surgeries using single or multiple energy sources are considered, as are articles comparing various commercial energy devices in laboratory settings. Keywords, such as laparoscopy, energy, laser, electrosurgery, monopolar, bipolar, harmonic, ultrasonic, cryosurgery, argon beam, laser, complications, and death were used in the search.RESULTS: A review of the literature shows that the performance of the energy devices depends upon the type of procedure. There is no consensus as to which device is optimal for a given procedure. The technical skill level of the surgeon and the knowledge about the devices are both important factors in deciding safe outcomes.CONCLUSIONS: As new energy devices enter the market increases, surgeons should be aware of their indicated use in laparoscopic, endoscopic, and open surgery.