Operating Room Fires




Of the more than 28 million surgeries performed each year in the United States, it is estimated anywhere from 50 to 200 may experience a fire in the operating room. For this reason, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) assembled a task force to study the issue and make recommendations on how to prevent and prepare for fires in the operating room.

As leaders in patient safety, ASA developed the following information for health care providers across the world to address the issue. If you have any questions, please download ASA’s “Practice Advisory for the Prevention and Management of Operating Room Fires” and discuss it with your physician.

Prevention and Preparation for an OR Fire

For a fire to occur, three components – or a “fire triad” – must be present in the OR: an oxidizer, an ignition source and a fuel. Oxidizers include oxygen and nitrous oxide, ignition sources include lasers, drills and electrosurgery units, and fuels include tracheal tubes, sponges and drapes. The Practice Advisory offers several tips to help prevent these three components from coming together:

In August 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognized ASA for its surgical fire prevention efforts.

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The ASA does not employ physician anesthesiologists on staff and cannot respond to patient inquiries regarding specific medical conditions or anesthesia administration. Please direct any questions related to anesthetics, procedures or treatment outcomes to the patient’s anesthesiologist or general physician.