Individuals who work in healthcare are routinely exposed to hazardous materials and dangerous medical conditions. Medical personnel in Pennsylvania who work in the operating room are at particular risk of acquiring the infectious diseases that are transmitted by surgical smoke.
Devices that emit some form of energy during their use release viruses, bacteria, chemicals and a range of other toxins when they are used on human tissue. If the surgical smoke caused by ultrasonic scalpels, electrosurgery devices, lasers and other energy-generating devices is not evacuated, the microscopic particles that carry possible infectious pathogens in the smoke can be easily inhaled by adjacent individuals directly into their respiratory system.
Surgical smoke safety should be a primary concern of infection preventionists because of surgical smoke’s potential to transmit diseases through aerosol. This is particularly important with regard to the occurrence of the human papillomavirus, a condition that has an epidemiological association to transmission by surgical smoke. There have been numerous case studies that describe perioperative professionals who handle lasers and electrosurgery devices and have discovered HPV positive cancerous masses in their airways. There are additional studies that have shown that surgical smoke can also transmit viable bacteria.
There is also significant evidence that surgical smoke evacuation is an effective tool for capturing the surgical smoke created during a surgery. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and other agencies have requirements that recognize local exhaust ventilation as a primary defense against the risks associated with surgical smoke.
Individuals who suffer from a workplace illness because of the negligence of an employer may have legal recourse. Attorneys who practice workers’ compensation law may pursue the liable parties if a worker developed cancer, depression, lung disease or an asbestos-related condition. Financial compensation may be obtained for the long-term effects of the illness.