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Electrical Safety in the Perioperative Environment

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Electrical Safety in the Perioperative Environment

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  • March 2011
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Electrical Safety in the Perioperative Environment

There are numerous ways electricity is employed in the operating room environment, such as X-ray machines, electrosurgical units, monitors, surgical table and lights, endoscopic cameras and monitors, lasers, and robotics. Each piece of machinery comes with certain safety precautions when using them in the perioperative environment. Since almost all injuries in the OR result in human error, it is important to follow these precautions to ensure patient and operating staff safety.

The electrosurgical unit (ESU) generated current that is used to cut or coagulate tissue, including fat, fascia, muscle, internal organs, and vessels. Current flows from a generator to a device that delivers electric current to the surgical site through the patient or tissue and is channeled back to the generator via the dispersive (inactive) electrode, known as the patient grounding pad. The grounding pad is something that is always used when using the ESU. It is one of the most important safety precautions when using the device in surgery and perhaps one of the best ways to prevent injury to the patient. Another precaution is making sure the patient is not wearing any metal to prevent the burning together of the patients skin when the ESU is applied. Another safety precaution is for the surgeon to make sure no holes are in his/her glove in order to prevent shock and burn.

Another device commonly used in the OR is the X-ray machine. The X-ray machine utilizes electromagnetic radiation to view internal structures. In the OR, X-rays play a big role in identifying abnormalities, finding lost surgical items such as sponges and instruments, assisting in bone realignment, etc. It is important to make sure this device is fully functional when needed for surgery. One of the precautions to take when using the X-ray is check the machine for frayed or broken power cords and functioning switches. Having a broken power cord could lead to a...

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