Archive Patient Safety 2009

Shield Patients and Staff From Stray Electrical Current

Knowing your electrosurgical equipment can help prevent patient burns and OR fires.

Vangie Dennis

Vangie Dennis, RN, CNOR, CMLSO


No group of surgical instruments is used as frequently, yet understood as poorly, as electrosurgical units. Because electrosurgery employs high-frequency, high-density electrical current to produce the desired tissue-cutting and -sealing effect, this technology poses a significant safety hazard if staff fail to take the proper precautions. Let's review the basic features of your electrosurgery units and the accompanying devices, products and practices that can help shield patients and staff from stray electrical current.

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