UKnow: UK HealthCare Earns National Recognition for Safety in Surgery

 UK HealthCare has earned the Go Clear Award for its achievement in eliminating hazardous smoke from its surgical procedures. The Go Clear Award is presented by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) to recognize health care facilities that have committed to providing increased surgical patient and health care worker safety by implementing practices that eliminate smoke caused by the use of lasers and electrosurgery devices during surgery.

UK HealthCare earned its award by undergoing comprehensive surgical smoke education and testing and for providing the medical devices and resources necessary to evacuate surgical smoke during all smoke-generating procedures.

Surgical smoke is the unwanted by-product of energy-generating devices that are used in 90% of all surgeries. Its contents include toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide, viruses, bacteria, blood and cancer cells. Inhalation and absorption of surgical smoke pose serious health risks to patients and surgical staff. Studies compare the inhalation of smoke from vaporized human tissue to the smoke created by cigarettes; the average daily impact of surgical smoke to the surgical team is equivalent to inhaling 27-30 unfiltered cigarettes. Today, it is estimated only 50% of health care workers across the U.S. understand the hazards of smoke exposure.

“Total evacuation needs to become the standard for all procedures that generate surgical smoke,” said Linda Groah, executive director of AORN. “With this award, UK HealthCare is demonstrating its deep commitment to the health and safety of its staff and community.” 

“For those who work in the OR, exposure to surgical smoke is as damaging to the lungs as a pack-a-day cigarette smoking habit,” said Julie L. Hudson, assistant hospital operations executive for perioperative services. “The "Go Clear" initiative is grounded in education and supports a healthier experience for all parties. This achievement represents months of effort by an interdisciplinary team of nurses, physicians, surgical technologists and Supply Chain staff across the enterprise. All workers deserve a safe workplace. All patients deserve a safe care experience.”

“UKHC Perioperative Services is committed to workplace and patient safety, even as this issue is becoming more widely recognized by lawmakers and the public,” said Hudson. “Earlier this month, the Kentucky State Senate Committee on Health Affairs voted unanimously to pass SB 38, which requires evacuation of surgical smoke in the OR environment.”

About AORN

AORN represents the interests of more than 160,000 perioperative nurses by providing nursing education, standards, and practice resources—including the peer-reviewed, monthly publication AORN Journal—to enable optimal outcomes for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures. AORN’s 40,000 registered nurse members manage, teach, and practice perioperative nursing, are enrolled in nursing education or are engaged in perioperative research.