Surgical Fire Safety in a Metropolitan Surgery Center
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Tola, Denise Hirsch
Jillson, Irene A
The components necessary to start a fire, including fuels, ignition sources and oxidizers are present in operating rooms. Fire risk assessments are tools used by surgical team members to rank the risk of a surgical fire occurring and to facilitate communication to reduce risk. Fire risk assessment tools are often inconsistently used by surgical team members. At one facility, the circulating nurse documents the fire risk assessment without engagement of the other surgical team members. The purposes of this quality improvement project conducted at a metropolitan surgery center were to improve the knowledge and awareness of the importance of surgical fire risk and to increase practitioners’ use of a fire risk assessment tool during the surgical safety communication process. An estimated 200-240 surgical fires occur annually in the U.S. All surgical team members need to be aware of surgical fire risk and communicate with team members to minimize it. Many professional and regulatory entities recommend using fire risk assessments during the surgical safety communication process to increase awareness of the risk. A quasi-experimental, before and after intervention, pilot research project utilized a purposive sample including all surgical team members of a metropolitan surgery center. The educational intervention was based on both published evidence and findings of a knowledge, attitudes and practice survey. A 10-item pre/post-test assessed knowledge, current practice and practice intent. A follow up post-test assessed knowledge retention and practice change. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze knowledge questions and common themes were derived from the open-ended responses. The average percentage correct on the pre-test was 48.82%, the post-test 71.88% and the follow up post-test given 3 months later, was 58.57%. On the follow up post-test, 93% of participants indicated they were incorporating surgical fire prevention strategies into their practice, compared to 82% on the pre-test. A separate pre-test question specifically regarding the use of a fire risk assessment was not asked, however, 50% reported using the fire risk assessment during the surgical safety communication process post intervention. The findings suggest that a brief educational intervention regarding fire risk assessment contributes to improving staff knowledge and use of prevention strategies.
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