The FDA in conjunction with other organizations, including the Joint Commission, released new recommendations to ensure that all health care professionals are aware of the risk factors leading to surgical fires.
By focusing on prevention of the “fire triangle”—the oxidizer, ignition source and fuel source—the FDA hopes to reduce the frequency of surgical fires and ensure that health care teams are properly prepared to neutralize them.
The FDA reports that the majority of surgical fires occur in environments with a concentration of oxygen exceeding 30%. To reduce the total concentration of oxygen, it is advised to limit the use of open oxygen delivery systems, such as nasal cannulas, and titrate the minimum concentration to ensure adequate oxygen saturation. Other precautions are advised, such as inspecting surgical equipment for any defects that would lead to them serving as an ignition source, and removing excess surgical drapes and alcohol-based antiseptics that may act as fuel sources.
While the recommendations are intended to help prevent surgical fires from occurring, the FDA also advised that health care professionals should be trained on what to do in the case of a fire. This includes being able to identify and stop the main source of ignition, the proper use of fire extinguishers, and removal of the patient and all burning material.