Protect Surgeons, Nurses and OR Staff from Surgical Smoke
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Please join Nurses Against Surgical Smoke in urging Governor Jerry Brown to make smoke evacuation mandatory in California operating rooms.
While California has prohibited smoking tobacco products in many public places — including restaurants, parks and beaches, as well as all health care facilities — it allows surgical smoke to contaminate operating rooms, exposing health care providers and patients to unnecessary risks.
Each year, an estimated 500,000 nurses and operating room staff are exposed to the dangers of surgical smoke. However, there are zero regulations mandating the evacuation of surgical smoke.
It's time for that to change.
Surgical smoke is the byproduct of using high-heat electrical surgical tools to cut and cauterize skin, tissue and other materials during surgery. When this tissue is vaporized, it produces what is known as surgical smoke. This smoke contains particles that are small enough to penetrate surgical masks and be absorbed into the mouth, throat and lungs.
According to the CDC, surgical smoke contains many of the same toxic gases that are found in cigarette smoke, including carbon monoxide, benzene, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde.
Governor Brown, the California Legislature has passed bill AB-402 and it is awaiting your review. We urge you to move quickly to sign this bill and allow for the creation of standards requiring smoke evacuation to protect the health of those who make us healthy.
Professional standards organizations including the American National Standards Institute, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses and the Centers for Disease Control strongly encourage the use of smoke evacuation in U.S. operating rooms. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration encourages employers to be aware of the problem and advise employees of the hazards.
Developed countries around the world, from Denmark to Canada to Australia, have put their health care providers’ wellbeing first in making smoke evacuation mandatory in operating rooms.
As a leader in promoting the health and safety of its residents and workers in addressing other forms of smoke (and a range of other health hazards), California has an opportunity to set precedent for the United States in how we care for our own surgeons, nurses and operating room staff.
We urge you to take immediate action to protect California surgeons, nurses and other operating room staff from the dangers of surgical smoke.
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