AORN released updated Guidelines for Perioperative Practice for 2024. Several sections of the guidelines got a refresh: Medication Safety, Design and Maintenance of the Surgical Suite, Manual High-Level-Disinfection, Safe Environment of Care, Team Communication, and Safe Patient Handling Movement. It’s clear that AORN continues to be serious about patient safety by ensuring that the updated guidelines reflect the latest on quality care.
Amidst the new Safe Environment of Care updates is a particularly important subsection: Fire Safety. Here are a few key updates to the Fire Safety guidelines that you need to know to ensure a safe operating room.
Use Cognitive Aids as Valuable Tools to Prevent Fires and Burns
AORN adjusted the guidelines to include the use of cognitive aids in fire risk assessment processes. Algorithms, checklists, and other tools are recommended to reduce the risk of surgical fires. In the guidelines, AORN provides a “Fire Risk Assessment and Prevention Algorithm” which can be printed and used preoperatively for a successful time-out.
Also consider signage or one-page handouts that can be accessed 24/7. Quick visual reminders can help fireproof your OR. Consider adding the Fire Triangle to your repository to quickly
Consider Implementing Devices that are Intended to Reduce the Risk of Perioperative Fires
AORN now encourages adjunct technologies that can reduce the risk of fires. Specifically, they’ve shared that research indicates using a fiberoptic light cord cover reduces the risk of surgical fires and burns.
Fiberoptic light cords get very hot, often exceeding 500℉. If the light is not put in standby or covered when detached from the scope, a burn or smoking drapes can occur in less than 6 seconds. GloShield® is a protective cover that makes light cord burns and fires a nonissue by automatically snapping into position and covering the light cord when the scope is detached.
Create Procedures for Reporting on Fire Events and Near Misses
The new guidelines recommend that you have procedures for reporting on fire events and near misses as part of your perioperative fire safety plan. This begins with the culture in the OR. Encourage open communication about safety concerns and reporting on near misses. Surgical fires and burns are often unreported due to factors like embarrassment, fear of adverse events, or potential legal repercussions. A survey of perioperative nurses found that 1 in 3 nurses had experienced a fire or burn in the past year. That’s a lot of fires and burns and does not take into account near misses. It’s important that all events are reported so that safety measures can be considered and improved. Start by creating a culture of safety.
Patient safety is a top priority when providing care. Unfortunately, without specific policies, procedures, and technology in place, preventable accidents (like surgical fires and burns) can happen too easily. For more information on AORN’s revised recommendations, be sure to get a copy of the 2024 Guidelines for Perioperative Practice.