Archive September 2017 XVIII, No. 9

Patient Safety: "Burning Bruce" Drives Home the Reality of Surgical Fires

Frighteningly realistic drills are the norm for the Stony Point Surgery Center.

Jim Burger

Jim Burger, Senior Editor


2017 OR Excellence Award: Patient Safety
mannequin named Bruce FRIGHTFUL REMINDER The Medarva Stony Point Surgery Center uses a mannequin named Bruce to help illustrate the horrors of surgical fires.

You might read about something, or you might see pictures. "But when you actually see it in real life, it means a whole lot more to you," says Shane Stanford, BSN, MSN, MBA. That's why the Medarva Stony Point Surgery Center in Richmond, Va., this year's OR Excellence award winner for Patient Safety, doesn't settle for mere discussion when it comes to preventing surgical fires.

Instead, once a year, they wheel out a mannequin nicknamed Burning Bruce to show staff and physicians how quickly a surgical fire can erupt, and what one looks and feels like. The demonstration takes place in the parking lot behind the surgery center. Bruce, wearing a surgical gown and lying on a gurney, is treated with an alcohol-based skin prep as the group is reminded that such preps need to dry for at least 3 minutes.

Up in flames
Then a clinician is randomly selected from the crowd, and everyone gets a dramatic demonstration of how outpatients can quickly become inpatients as a result of impatience. After about 90 seconds of drying time has elapsed, the clinician directs a flame toward the prep, and whoosh, up goes Bruce in flames — flames that rapidly spread across his entire body.

His job done and the point made, Bruce — affectionately named after Bruce Kupper, the president and CEO of Medarva Healthcare and an outspoken safety advocate — is snuffed out and cooled off, before going back into storage to wait for the following year's demonstration.

"So far, he's survived," says Mr. Stanford, the surgery center's director of clinical services. "But he's showing the effects. We're probably going to have to replace him in a few years."

Sponsored by US WorldMeds

But the char marks on Bruce are a badge of honor, a testament to the impact he's having. "When a clinician sees how easily a patient's skin can be ignited, and sees the flames on the body, it leaves an impression that this is something they can't afford to take lightly," says Mr. Stanford. "Fire in the OR can easily be prevented and this ensures that no mistakes take place."

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