Surgical Fires

Surgical fires are fires that occur in, on or around a patient undergoing a medical or surgical procedure. Surgical fires are rare but serious events. The ECRI Institute estimates that approximately 550 to 600 surgical fires occur each year. The AANA is a collaborating partner of the FDA Preventing Surgical Fires Initiative. This initiative was launched to increase awareness of factors that contribute to surgical fires, disseminate surgical fire prevention tools, and promote the adoption of risk reduction practices throughout the healthcare community. 

In most cases, surgical fires are preventable.  As an integral part of the surgical team, it is important for CRNAs to be aware of potential hazards that may cause surgical fires, prevention techniques, and steps to extinguish a surgical fire.  The AANA encourages all CRNAs to be knowledgeable about and take steps to mitigate the risk of surgical fires.  It is important for anesthesia professionals to participate in a fire risk assessment, identifying the presence of the three elements of the fire triangle, at the beginning of each procedure.  Continuous communication among the entire surgical team throughout the procedure is a vital component in the prevention of surgical fires.

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Surgical_Fire_Triangle

Surgical fires can occur any time all three of the following elements are present:

  • Ignition source (e.g., electrosurgical units, lasers, and fiberoptic light sources)
  • Fuel source (e.g., surgical drapes, alcohol-based skin preparation agents, the patient)
  • Oxidizer (e.g., oxygen, nitrous oxide, room air)