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Did Alcohol Prep Cause Surgical Fire?

A reminder of the importance of letting preps dry before surgery begins.

Published: August 15, 2013

A North Carolina hospital says it will no longer use alcohol-based skin preps during emergency surgeries after a patient suffered first- and second-degree burns to the neck and shoulders during what is described as a life-saving procedure in June.

A brief flash fire started when vapor from the skin prepping solution ignited, according to a spokeswoman at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinhurst, N.C., The OR team immediately extinguished the fire and the patient's injuries were not lasting. Most alcohol-based preps require 3 minutes or more of drying time.

Although hospital leaders determined the staff responded to the fire appropriately and successfully, the state division of health service regulation placed the hospital on "immediate jeopardy" for failing to follow established fire prevention policies and procedures.

The state reported the findings to CMS, which will likely conduct a full survey in the coming weeks. During the survey, the hospital's staff must demonstrate its compliance with the fire safety process improvement plan suggested by state surveyors.

Read more here.

Daniel Cook


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