ICSP is a non-profit clinical advocacy organization with a growing membership of over 150,000 healthcare professionals and colleagues through professional societies and organizations. We are committed to eliminating surgical plume, through education and clinical assistance with program management, research, and support for development of standards and legislation.
Surgical plume is a by-product of the vaporization of tissue with energy based devices during approximately 95% of all surgical procedures. The plume contains carbon, cellular debris, viral particulates, toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and benzene, and a number of carcinogenic and mutagenic substances. Plume affects both patients and any person entering or working in the enclosed space of an operating room or treatment room where these procedures are occurring. Healthcare workers who are exposed, often complain of burning, running eyes, coughing, sore throat, asthma, allergic reactions, nausea, and headaches, and may suffer the potential of more serious long term health problems. If doctors, nurses, or others in the contaminated environment, feel sick, are coughing, or have prolonged headaches, they cannot fulfill their most important role in the operating room, care and advocacy for patients during their most vulnerable times.
We do not have to delay any further, waiting for new devices to be invented, debating established evidence based standards, or for new studies to be finished. A broad range of devices is already available, and there is a workable solution out there for every facility, regardless of size or procedure type. Clean air in the OR can be a reality with little or no change to surgical technique, or work practices. The devices are simple to obtain, simple to retro-fit to existing equipment, and simple to use - but yield great health benefits to everyone in the room, including our patients.
While it is true, that there are a number of standards, guidelines, and recommended professional practices currently published, they fail to have a meaningful impact on practice, due to lack of enforcement and to the fact that most surgical team members are not empowered to require compliance. There is a significant impact on clinical practice when consensus standards, become legal mandates. This shift to required compliance prevents staff from having to work in an at-risk environment, and patient's safety from being jeopardized, because of an individual's refusal to use the evacuation device, or a facility administrator choosing to defer the budget for the equipment.
ICSP is dedicated to seeing that positive changes happen, as we move towards a healthier, safer, plume free environment. No one should accept a known risk in their workplace, when mitigating that risk takes little but the desire to do it.
Dr. Mark Lema, Chairman, Board of Directors, ICSP
Brenda C. Ulmer, RN, MN, CNOR
Penny J. Smalley, RN, CMLSO
Miriam Vollweiler, RN