Occupational Exposure to Anesthesia

A new report shows that the health industry does not always observe necessary precautions when it comes to exposure to anesthetic gases or vapors that are released or leaked out during medical procedures.

Researchers from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health looked at data from 2011, which included about 3,000 anesthesia care providers who had administered inhaled anesthesia within the past seven days.

Here is a look at the results.  Despite the fact that 97% of participants always used machines equipped with a scavenging system designed to remove waste anesthetic gas… other participated in other practices that actually increased the exposure to the dangerous gases.

Among the findings:

  • 35 percent of participants began anesthetic gas flow before applying a mask to a pediatric patient; 14 percent did so for adult patients.
  • 19 percent said their facilities lacked safe anesthesia handling procedures.
  • 18 percent had never received hazard awareness training.
  • 5 percent did not routinely check equipment for leaks.

The study was published in the October issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene.

For more information on the dangers of anesthetic gases and vapors, please check out OSHAcademy course 631-Hospital Hazards & Solutions: Surgical Suite.