ASHE is one of several organizations partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on a new initiative to prevent surgical fires. The Preventing Surgical Fires project aims to increase awareness of factors that contribute to these preventable fires and to promote the adoption of risk reduction strategies throughout the health care community. An estimated 550 to 650 surgical fires occur in the United States every year, and some cause serious injury, disfigurement, or death.
The FDA regulates drugs and devices that can contribute to surgical fires, including skin preparation agents, oxygen, lasers, and surgical drapes, and it reviews product labeling to make sure warnings of fire risk are included when appropriate. But the FDA says regulatory efforts alone are not enough to prevent surgical fires. The new initiative provides recommendations and information for health care professionals, hospitals, and patients.
ASHE Engineering and Compliance Director John Collins was part of the FDA group that created the initiative. Collins said surgical fires are well understood and can be prevented. “It’s a real simple problem,” he said. “It just keeps reoccurring because people don’t pay attention.” The initiative will shine a spotlight on the issue, hopefully reducing the number of surgical fires by sharing best practices and encouraging consistent education to staff on ways to prevent the fires, Collins said.
More information on the initiative can be found online at www.fda.gov/preventingsurgicalfires.
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