Archive September 2006 VII, No. 9

Electrical Safety in the OR

Understanding basic principles of electricity is key to preventing microshock and electrosurgical burns.

Jeffrey Gross, MD

Electricity is ever-present in the perioperative environment, powering tables, lamps, blood warmers, monitors and cautery devices. It's easily conducted by liquids such as IV and irrigation solutions and interstitial fluids, increasing the chances of electrical shock. Further, there are unique electrical risks to patients because of the electrical charges we apply to them - and anesthetized patients are unable to report or withdraw from a painful electrical current, which increases the risk of burns or cardiac arrest. We must take precautions to ensure safety in these circumstances.

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