Surgical Smoke Intervention and Implementation Plan to Effect Practice Change

Brenda C. Ulmer, RN, MN, CNOR, Perioperative Nurse Educator, and Vangie Dennis, MSN, RN, CNOR, CMLSO, Executive Director of Surgical Services, WellStar Health System, Atlanta Medical Center Downtown & Atlanta Medical Center South

A smoke evacuation program requires the commitment of the entire health care team for the optimal intervention of practice to protect the staff from the potentially harmful effects of surgical smoke. The entire team is responsible and accountable for smoke removal and includes the anesthesia providers, perioperative staff, surgeons and administration. The education of the perioperative team regarding the hazards of surgical smoke is the primary gauge in the successful execution of practice transformation. The involvement of the entire team is crucial to effective intervention. The health care team should be involved in the purchase decisions of evacuation equipment, supplies and process of practices for the different service surgical procedures. A smooth transition to routine smoke evacuation practice changes can be accomplished with a shared governance model.

Brenda C. Ulmer is a perioperative nurse educator with expert knowledge of energy-based devices including fire safety and the hazards of surgical smoke. Ulmer’s work history includes global director, professional education for Covidien energy-based devices, director of surgical services at Northlake Regional Medical Center in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as staff and charge positions at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

A long-term active member of AORN, Ulmer served three terms on the national board of directors, and as national president 2000-2001. Her current committee assignment is AORN representative to SAGES fundamental use of energy in surgery committee (FUSE). Ulmer is an inaugural board of directors’ member on the International Council on Surgical Plume (ICSP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to collaborative efforts focused on the evacuation and filtration of surgical plume.

Vangie Dennis is the executive director of WellStar Atlanta Medical Center and Atlanta Medical Center South located in the metropolitan area of Atlanta. Vangie is on the board of directors for the Laser Institute of America, the chair for the National Certification on Lasers, board of directors for AORN National, president of the NW AORN Chapter, treasurer for the Georgia Council of Nurses and committee representative for the American National Standards Institute. She is named in Strathmore’s Who’s Who and the recipient of the 1996 Nursing Excellence Award from the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery. She was awarded the 2011 R. James Rockwell Jr. Educational Achievement Award and the 2011 AORN Award for Outstanding Achievement in Perioperative Clinical Nursing Education.

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