Adherence to Precautionary Practices among Anesthesia Care Providers
A recent study by NIOSH researchers found that while scavenging systems—equipment used to prevent waste anesthetic gases from escaping into operating rooms—are widely used by anesthesia care providers, adherence to other recommended practices to minimize exposures is lacking. The article, which was published in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH), describes examples of practices that may increase workers’ exposure risk.

The study results are derived from the 2011 Health and Safety Practices Survey of Healthcare Workers, a federally sponsored survey of U.S. healthcare workers that addresses safety and health practices relative to use of hazardous chemicals. According to NIOSH, the survey is the first to examine self-reported use of scavenging systems and other controls to minimize anesthesia care providers’ exposure to waste anesthetic gases. Nearly 3,000 anesthesia care providers completed the survey. Select results from the JOEH study appear below.
From “Precautionary Practices for Administering Anesthetic Gases: A Survey of Physician Anesthesiologists, Nurse Anesthetists and Anesthesiologist Assistants”: “Adherence to precautionary work practices was generally highest among nurse anesthetists compared to the other anesthesia care providers. Successful management of waste anesthetic gases should include scavenging systems, hazard awareness training, availability of standard procedures to minimize exposure, regular inspection of anesthesia delivery equipment for leaks, prompt attention to spills and leaks, and medical surveillance.”

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Editor's Note: Fumes vs. Vapors
The original wording from the Center for Public Integrity's report "Common Solvent Keeps Killing Workers, Consumers" mistakenly refers to "fumes" in a context where "vapors" is the correct term. The Synergist has corrected this error in the digital edition.
Unfortunately, the error found its way into the print version of the November issue. The Synergist regrets the error and will publish a correction in the December issue.
Ed Rutkowski, editor