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R.I. Smoke Evacuation Legislation Becomes Law

Surgical nurses in Rhode Island can look forward to smoke-free ORs.

Published: June 7, 2018

Surgical Smoke Surgical Smoke Rhode Island's surgical nurses will soon be smoke-free in their ORs.

Rhode Island became the first U.S. state to address surgical smoke evacuation by law with the passage earlier this week of legislation that will require all licensed hospitals and ambulatory surgical facilities to use a smoke evacuation system for surgical procedures that generate plume.

Hospitals are required to report to the R.I. Department of Health within 90 days that they've adopted policies regarding surgical smoke ventilation.

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) spearheaded the law's passage in collaboration with the Rhode Island State Nurses Association and provided testimony on the dangers of surgical smoke.

Each year, an estimated 500,000 workers, including surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and surgical technologists, are exposed to laser or electrosurgical smoke, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). This smoke, also known as plume, includes carbon monoxide, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and a variety of trace toxic gases. Prolonged exposure can lead to serious and life-threatening respiratory diseases.

"We hope Rhode Island's proactive legislation will lead other states to follow suit," says Danielle Glover, manager of AORN Government Affairs, noting the lack of standards for laser and electrosurgery plume hazards.

Dan O'Connor


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