Burns in the Operating Room

  • Kraig S. de Lanzac
  • Joseph R. Koveleskie


The concept of a patient suffering a burn injury in an operating room may sound highly unlikely. Unfortunately, these types of injuries continue to occur every year in the United States and worldwide even with the most well-meaning professionals involved. Burns in the operating room can be physically devastating for the patient and very upsetting to the caregivers. Burn injury occurs from physical contact or close proximity with fire or heated items, electrosurgery unit malfunction, electrical shock or burn, or contact with chemicals. These injuries are known potential risks for patients undergoing procedures and they are most often preventable. Everyone in the OR or procedure room is responsible for the care and protection of the patient, and in that role all should be aware of the risk of patient burns and potential sources of a burn injury. Strict adherence should be maintained to training, policies, and protocols developed at your institution designed to prevent patient injury. Better awareness of the risks of burns should lead to an improved culture of safety surrounding these potential events.

There are a number of common causes of burns in the operating room including fire. We will present information that will allow you to be more aware of the risks and help create prevention strategies. Recommendations from several patient safety organizations will be discussed. In addition, we will review reaction and treatment steps that can be followed if an event does occur. The most dramatic of burn injuries, those due to fire and in particular airway fire, will be covered. Although burn injuries are rare, they can be devastating, and it is our hope that this chapter will help to increase awareness of burn injuries in the operating room and the steps that can be taken to protect our patients from this catastrophic perioperative complication.


Operating room Anesthesia Patient safety Fire Fire triad Burns Electrosurgical unit Airway fire Laser Chemical burns 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kraig S. de Lanzac
    • 1
  • Joseph R. Koveleskie
    • 2
  1. 1.Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of AnesthesiologyNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.University of Queensland, Ochsner Clinical School, Department of AnesthesiologyNew OrleansUSA

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