This study was performed to characterize the frequency, causes, and possible risk factors of operating room (OR) fires experienced by members of the American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
An online questionnaire was distributed to American Society of Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery members, collecting data on surgical fires experienced by respondents throughout their careers. In addition, the questionnaire investigated viewpoints on OR fire safety, current practice patterns with oxygen delivery and surgical device usage, and management of patients referred after previous surgical fire exposure.
There were 258 participants in the survey. Eighty-three surgeons (32.2%) experienced at least 1 surgical fire in their careers. Most OR fires occurred during monitored sedation cases with oxygen delivered by nasal cannula underneath drapes completely covering the head and use of a monopolar or battery-operated device. Patient hair and skin were the most common fuel sources, and most of the injuries were limited to singing of facial hair. Regarding current practice patterns, monopolar, bipolar, and battery-powered disposable devices were the most frequently used electrosurgery and electrocautery tools. Patients seen after an OR fire with another surgeon generally experienced more severe burns requiring hospitalization and subsequent procedures.
Many oculoplastic surgeons have experienced OR fires during their careers. Certain surgical and anesthetic techniques, particularly the delivery of supplemental oxygen underneath surgical drapes and the use of monopolar electrosurgery and battery-powered electrocautery, may be associated with increased fire risk. While most of the reported OR fires did not result in significant patient injury, caution must be taken to prevent these potentially devastating events.