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Operating Room Fires and Electrical Safety 

Operating Room Fires and Electrical Safety
Operating Room Fires and Electrical Safety

Stephan Cohn

and P. Allan Klock

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date: 05 December 2020

Understanding electrical systems and fire safety protocols in the operating room is fundamental to patient and staff safety. Modern operating rooms are designed to reduce the risk of electrical hazards. Line isolation transformers were developed in the era of explosive anesthetics to reduce the risk of sparks and macro-shock. Isolated electrical supplies are still used in operating rooms because they allow surgery to continue while the line isolation alarm is activated and the source of the fault is investigated and deactivated. Ground fault circuit breaker interrupters may also be used in operating rooms, but if a fault is detected, they will deactivate the electrical circuit, which may be disruptive to surgical or anesthetic care. Micro-shock occurs when a small amount of current is delivered directly to the myocardium via an indwelling catheter or pacing wire. Operating room fires, though relatively rare, can cause devastating patient injury but are largely preventable.

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