Safety: The ABC's of Electrosurgery


A pop quiz to test your staff's knowledge.

electrosurgery PROPER PRECAUTION When surgeons employ electrosurgery, be sure they follow protocols to minimize risks of accidental burns.

Electrosurgery units can be one of the most dangerous pieces of equipment in your OR, mostly because many surgeons and staff members don't understand the basic principles of electrosurgery and the best ways to avoid burns. Use this short quiz to refresh their memories so they can better protect themselves and your patients.

1. Electricity follows the path of least resistance.

a. trueb. false

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2. As tissue is desiccated, its resistance increases and electricity seeks alternative routes.

a. trueb. false

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3. Insulation integrity has no relation to thermal injuries and is not a patient safety issue.

a. trueb. false

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On The Web:

SAGES has launched a new program — the Fundamental Use of Surgical Energy (FUSE) — to educate surgeons and staff on the proper use of electrosurgery devices in the OR. The web-based, interactive educational program is free:

4. Insulation failure is one of the events that can lead to an electrosurgical burn. What are the others?

a. capacitive coupling and direct coupling
b. high current densities and capacitive coupling
c. open circuit activation and high current density
d. eschar development and open circuit activation

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5. Active electrode shielding prevents patient injuries from capacitive coupling and insulation failure.

a. trueb. false

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6. Identify only one of the following precautions to take if a patient has a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD).

a. Electrosurgery is contraindicated and not safe for any patient with a pacemaker or ICD.
b. ESU cords or cables are best placed closest to the devices.
c. Do not let the current transect the ICD or pacemaker, with placement as far as clinically possible.
d. Maintain the longest distance between the active electrode and the pad.

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