Risk Of Operating Room Fire Grows With Use Of Electrosurgical Tools And Alcohol Based Preps

Late last year Chloraprep manufacturer, Carefusion, changed the labeling on the surgical skin prep product to explicitly state “do not use with electrocautery procedures.”

Chloraprep is 70% isopropyl alcohol and is administered as an antibacterial on the skin prior to any incisions during surgery.  A strong push by manufacturers has resulted in ChloraPrep being the sole anti-septic surgical prep solution used in some hospitals.  The recent labeling change calls into question the safety of using ChloraPrep in modern operating rooms.

The two primary ingredients in ChloraPrep are chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) and isopropyl alcohol (IPA) both of which are combustible at high temperatures. ChloraPrep and other alcholo-based preps may pool or evaporate in the small confines of the operating room, creating a highly flammable situation that requires a single ignition source to spark a deadly blaze. This is often provided by the electrocautery devices – devices that use extreme heat generated by resistance in an electical current to make incisions on the human body.

The continuing and growing prevalence of the use of electrosurgical unites and lasers in the surgical process, in combination with this high level of alcohol, has significantly increased the risk of operating room fires.Operating room fires are known as “sentinel events” – events that should never occur under proper hospital care. Nonetheless, statistics show that operating room fires occur as frequently as operations on the wrong organ. Approximately 100 surgical fires occur every year, causing serious injuries in up to 20 cases and even one to two deaths.

In addition to Chloraprep, other alcohol based surgical preps being using in operating rooms across the country on a daily basis include Avagard, BactoShield, Betasept, and Dyna-Hex.  If you or someone you care about was injured in an operating room fire, or during the application of Chloraprep, call the experienced attorneys at Houssiere, Durant & Houssiere, today for a free consultation.

Surgical Fire During Organ Procurement – http://ispub.com/IJA/19/1/9582

ChloraPrep Labeling Change –http://www.carefusion.com/pdf/Alerts_and_Notices/Infection_Prevention/ChloraPrep_Label_Change_Customers_Letter.pdf

Alcohol Based Surgical Prep Solution and the Risk of Fire in the Operating Room –http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377238/