“A cuffed endotracheal tube is passed below where you’re working and prevents oxygen from coming up the trachea into your field,” said Gresham Richter, MD, associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock. “Theoretically, you could burn something in the oral cavity with electrocautery without risk of fire, because there’s no fuel source to ignite a fire.” Use saline-moistened instead of dry sponges in the surgical field when necessary (Health Devices. 2009;38(10):319).
Explore this issue:April 2012
A planned defense. Coat patients’ head hair and facial hair with water-soluble lubricating jelly to render it non-flammable (Health Devices. 2009;38(10):319). Keep saline on hand, in case it’s needed to douse a surgical fire.
Communication. “Coordination within the team is absolutely critical,” Dr. Roy said. “Before any type of procedure takes place, have a surgical timeout. Confirm the site and procedure and discuss any safety concerns. Talk about the fire risks and devise a plan. You want an open forum for communication so you can effectively work together as a team to minimize the involved risks.”