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Throughout the following piece of work, the topic of surgical smoke within the theatre area will be discussed.

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Throughout the following piece of work, the topic of surgical smoke within the theatre area will be discussed. Due to the wide subject area, this will be minimised to discussing the following aspects, the detrimental effects of surgical smoke on staff, risk assessment and its processes and surgical smoke evacuation techniques. To assist with the ease of explanation, relevant definitions will be included. The topic of surgical smoke has been chosen due to the author having a particular professional interest in the subject area. Although practical experience of surgical procedures has been limited to the past three and a half years, a noticeable increase of the use of smoke producing equipment within the department has occurred, whereas the use of and availability of adequate smoke extraction equipment has not increased at the same rate. The author feels that as a result of the unparallel increase, there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of surgical smoke smells and fumes lingering within the department which may be detrimental to staff members' health. The aim and purpose of this essay is to critically analyse and evaluate the use of electrosurgical units within the theatre department, the risk factors involved with the use of such units, and the safety measures readily available to reduce the adverse effects of staff member's frequent exposure to the smoke plume. ...read more.


Many social theorists have broached the subject of risk with a view to critically analyse the definition of risk. The German sociologist Ulrich Beck is a prime example of this, although speaking in much larger terms than those involving surgical smoke plume; he described the continuing increase in the production of pollutants and corrosives as producing a risk society. (Beck 1992). By this, he meant that the more pollutant substances that are emitted into the atmosphere, the risk of detrimental effects arising from it increase at a parallel rate. Health care in general emphasises the prevention of disease and the promotion of health (Jones et al 2002). This however is aimed at the health of the general public and is not aimed as intensely at the health of staff members. As Goldman (2004) stated, although risk assessment is a major governing factor throughout the NHS, this in turn is governed partially by budgets and cost implications to individual departments. Various measures are available within the surgical market which can be put into place to reduce the exposure of staff members to surgical smoke plume and the implied risks involved with this exposure (Brandon et al 1997). No legal standards are in place in regards to surgical smoke evacuation, only recommendations. ...read more.


departmental, trust and NHS cost of staff sickness as a result of exposure to surgical smoke plume, and although it may seem dramatic, early retirement of staff on the grounds of ill health due to resulting chronic chest problems. Sackett et al (1997) say that evidence based practice is regarding the application of current best practice, using external evidence and individuals' clinical knowledge and expertise. Although there is a limited number of evidence available to show that electrosurgical smoke plume is harmful to staff members, all of the available information recommends that protection against exposure to the hazards of surgical smoke. The information available however, is adequate to encourage staff to question their own individual safety and in turn educate others. Running concurrently with the clinical governance agenda, smoke evacuation needs to be addressed as a positive change and in such a way as to encourage discussion, education, understanding and most importantly, best quality of care (Hughes & Hughes 2001). Prior to any major permanent changes being made to daily practices, staff must be educated as to the possible hazards they face through their routine of daily work. This, as with any major change, is a formidable task, however this needs to be undertaken for the health and prolonged working life of today's theatre staff. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 ...read more.

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