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The Art of the IV Start - December 2014 - Subscribe to Outpatient Surgery Magazine

Outpatient Surgery Magazine, providing current information on Surgical Services, Surgical Facility Administration, Outpatient Surgery News and Trends, OR Excellence and more.

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Dan O'Connor EDITOR'S PAGE 1 0 O U T P AT I E N T S U R G E R Y M A G A Z I N E O N L I N E | D E C E M B E R 2 0 1 4 Oxygen's Underrated Role in Surgical Fires Of the 3 elements of the fire triangle, beware of the one you can't see. M ost of you will never experience a surgical fire. "Thank goodness," says Lauren Wargo, 27, who 7 years ago suffered second- degree burns on the left side of her face and neck when surgery to have a mole removed from her right eye- brow ended in a flash fire. As is the case with many surgical fires (see "Surgical Fire Q&A" on page 60), highly flammable pure oxygen was the culprit in Ms. Wargo's fire. When her plastic surgeon activated the electrocautery device, the anesthesia assistant didn't adjust the oxygen level or turn off the sup- ply of oxygen flowing into Ms. Wargo's face mask. In the presence of oxygen, the Bovie caused a spark that caught her hair, face and drap- ing on fire. The face mask's plastic tubing melted to her neck and chest. Of the 3 elements of the fire triangle — a fuel or combustible materi- al, an ignition or heat source, and enough oxygen to support combus- tion — it's that invisible element, pure oxygen, that does the most damage. "Alcohol gets much more attention because everyone knows it's flammable, but the more important issue is oxygen and how easily it allows things to catch fire and burn faster and hotter," says surgical fire expert Mark E. Bruley, CCE. "Alcohol's role is overrated. Oxygen's FLASH FIRE Lauren Wargo suffered second-degree burns on her face and neck as a result of a surgical fire 7 years ago. Lauren Wargo

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