Wickenburg Community Hospital 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. Wickenburg earned its award by undergoing comprehensive surgical smoke education along with testing and providing the resources necessary to evacuate surgical smoke during all smoke-generating procedures. This required investing in new medical devices.

Surgical smoke is the unwanted by-product of energy-generating devices that are used in 90 percent 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 percent 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, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN, CEO/Executive Director of AORN. “With this award, WCH is demonstrating its deep commitment to the health and safety of its staff and community.”  

“I am so proud of our surgeons and staff. They all took a serious interest in the health and safety risks for their patients and themselves. We are the pioneers for making our state smoke free in all operating rooms as Wickenburg is the second hospital in Arizona to become smoke free,” said Dr. Lisa Erlinger PhD, CRNA, Director of Surgical Services and Anesthesia at Wickenburg Community Hospital.

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