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Health Devices. 2003 Jan;32(1):5-24.

A clinician's guide to surgical fires. How they occur, how to prevent them, how to put them out.

[No authors listed]

Erratum in

  • Health Devices. 2003 May;32(5):176.


Surgical fires--fires that occur on or in a surgical patient--are a rare but devastating complication of surgical procedures. They can happen during almost any kind of operation and can have dire consequences for both the patient and the hospital. The risk of surgical fires can be minimized as long as everyone on the surgical team understands how fires start and what to do when they occur. It's important to recognize the interaction among ignition sources, oxidizers, and fuels--the three sides of the classic fire triangle. What's more, staff members need to be alert to "hidden" fire risks, such as unsuspected oxygen-enriched atmospheres and less-than-obvious fuels. They also need to be drilled in the correct steps for responding to fires. In this guide, we describe the elements of surgical fires, including the types of equipment and materials that make up each side of the fire triangle. Through a series of case histories, we illustrate the many ways in which fires can start in the operating room. We also provide a detailed list of prevention methods. Finally, we describe the steps to take and the equipment to use--and not use--when a fire does occur.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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