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Unfiltered OR Lights Burn Patients at Oregon Hospital

Up to 10 patients suffered mild to severe burns thanks to unfiltered halogen lights, hospital says.

Published: January 22, 2015

Unfiltered Halogen LightsOR lights causing patient burns? It happened at one Oregon hospital, where officials recently disclosed that up to 10 patients suffered from burns after being exposed to unfiltered halogen lamps in the operating room.

Silverton Hospital in Silverton Ore., says that faulty maintenance was to blame for a recent flare-up of patient burns. Before the incidents, staff had changed several OR lights' diffusers without replacing the bulbs' filters, causing the halogen lights — which emit UV rays — to burn up to 10 patients.

Hospital officials told the Associated Press that in September 2013 staff had performed maintenance on the halogen lights in 3 ORs at the hospital, but were unaware about the need to replace the lights' filters. That following June, officials began receiving reports of patient burns following surgery. After 5 months of investigation, the hospital found that the unfiltered OR lights were the source of the problem.

Less than 10 patients have contacted Silverton Hospital about burns so far, it was reported, but the hospital says it is reaching out to anyone else who may have been affected — with as many as 2,100 patients who underwent surgery during that time period at risk. The burns were isolated and ranged from mild to severe, although according to the hospital, none of the affected patients have been permanently disfigured.

Hospital officials say the problem was a "system issue" and it has since changed its lights from halogen to LED. It also amended its maintenance policy, with staff now required to alert the hospital's engineering department or equipment vendor before performing maintenance work on medical equipment.

"For all of us working in health care, we're in it to help people get better, so it's difficult for us when safety of patients are compromised in any way," says Joseph Huang, MD, the hospital's chief medical officer, in a statement to Outpatient Surgery. "It's our responsibility to our patients and the communities that we serve that we respond in a transparent and accountable way."

Kendal Gapinski

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