Colorado Legislature aims to tackle operating room dangers of surgical smoke

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DENVER — There’s a new push to make operating rooms safer for medical professionals. Colorado lawmakers are tackling the issue of surgical smoke, which is released when a surgeon cuts or cauterizes a patient with a hot instrument.

About 500,000 healthcare workers are exposed to surgical smoke each year nationwide.

Medical technology companies like Stryker make a tool that has suction built into the device.

“It looks just like a standard electrosurgical pencil, except one of the differences is, it has suction built into the pencil. So, when a surgeon is cutting or coagulating tissue, this will evacuate the smoke directly at the surgical site,” said Nick Meginnis with Stryker.

Meginnis said daylong exposure to the smoke can be equivalent to smoking 30 unfiltered cigarettes.

According to the Colorado Hospital Association, some hospitals in Colorado are already addressing the issue, but CHA is supporting a bill to make devices like Stryker’s a requirement.

“This bill will standardize the equipment and procedures that hospitals use to vacuum out that small amount of surgical smoke that gets released,” said Cara Welch with CHA.

The bill will head to the State House’s Health and Human Services Committee Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

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