LAGRANGE — Parkview LaGrange Hospital has received recognition by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) for making the operating room a safer place for staff members, physicians, anesthesiologists and patients alike.

AORN has recognized the hospital team with the Gold level of the Go Clear Award™ for its achievement in eliminating hazardous smoke – known as surgical plume – from its surgical procedures.

The Go Clear Award is presented by AORN to recognize healthcare facilities that have committed to providing increased surgical patient and healthcare worker safety by implementing practices that eliminate smoke caused by the use of lasers and electrosurgery devices during surgery.

According to AORN, there are no federal regulations specifically regarding surgical smoke; however, hospitals and health systems that place a strong emphasis on patient and workplace safety – including Parkview – are working to address the potential risk from repeated exposure to surgical plume.

PLH earned its award by undergoing comprehensive surgical smoke education and testing, and by providing the medical devices and resources necessary to remove surgical plume during all smoke-generating procedures.

Surgical plume is the unwanted by-product of energy-generating devices that are used in 90 percent of all surgeries. Its contents include toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide, plus viruses, bacteria, blood and cancer cells.

Inhalation and absorption of surgical smoke pose serious health risks to patients and surgical staff. Studies compare the inhalation of smoke from vaporized human tissue to the smoke created by cigarettes; the average daily effect of surgical smoke to the surgical team is equivalent to inhaling 27 to 30 unfiltered cigarettes. Today, it is estimated only 50 percent of healthcare workers across the nation understand the hazards of smoke exposure.

“Total [smoke] evacuation needs to become the standard for all procedures that generate surgical smoke,” said Linda Groah, MSN, RN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN, CEO/executive director of AORN. “With this award, Parkview LaGrange Hospital is demonstrating its deep commitment to the health and safety of its staff and community.”

Jordi Disler, president of Parkview LaGrange Hospital, credits the initiative of the operating room team in bringing about this positive change in a collaborative effort spanning five years.

“It started with equipment change,” said Disler, “but our nurses and surgical techs took it to another level. They worked to advocate for themselves, their patients, and co-workers to ensure that their environment is as safe as possible. They all completed education, passed testing, worked to gain physician and surgeon collaboration, and put processes in place to meet the gold-level standards of AORN. I am so proud of their diligence and determination on this important safety issue, and I want to thank our OR manager, Randy Bryant, and the medical, nursing and anesthesia teams at the PLH OR for their commitment.”

Parkview LaGrange Hospital is the first Parkview hospital – and one of three in the state – to receive Gold recognition at this time from AORN’s Go Clear Award program, which includes Gold, Silver and Bronze levels of distinction.

AORN partnered with Medtronic through the AORN Foundation to create the AORN Go Clear Award, a comprehensive Surgical Smoke-free Recognition Program for facilities that want to ensure a smoke-free environment. There are three Go Clear Award designations: Bronze, Silver and Gold. To see a listing of award recipients, go to https://www.aorn.org/education/facility-solutions/aorn-awards/aorn-go-clear-award/recipients-go-clear-award.

Founded in 1949, the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) represents the interests of more than 160,000 perioperative nurses by providing nursing education, standards, and practice resources – including the peer-reviewed, monthly publication AORN Journal – to enable optimal outcomes for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures. AORN’s 40,000 registered nurse members manage, teach, and practice perioperative nursing, are enrolled in nursing education or are engaged in perioperative research.

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