In October 2011, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the launch of a surgical fire prevention initiative as part of its overall Safe Use Initiative. The Safe Use Initiative provides an avenue for FDA to establish partnerships and collaborations with appropriate stakeholders to identify risks and reduce harm associated with using medications. FDA regulates the drugs (e.g., oxygen, skin preparation solutions) and the devices (e.g., electrosurgical units, lasers) that, when combined in the right proportions and associated with the right conditions, contribute to surgical fires. However, according to FDA, regulations of drugs and devices alone cannot prevent surgical fires.
The surgical fire prevention initiative is a collaborative effort between the clinical community and patient safety organizations to encourage safe practices and to develop interventions to prevent surgical fires. FDA publicized the initiative launch by means of a FDA Safety Communication on preventing surgical fires (http://www.fda.gov/MedicalDevices/Safety/AlertsandNotices/ucm275189.htm), a webpage on preventing surgical fires (http://www.fda.gov/preventingsurgicalfires), and a video available through Medscape (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/751171).
Concurrently, Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority analysts are reexamining events of surgical fires reported to the Authority and will publish results in an upcoming issue of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Advisory. The Authority has previously published a patient safety toolkit specifically discussing airway fires during surgery.