Release Date: Sep 30, 2022

SHELTON, WA – Inhaling surgical smoke is one of the hidden hazards of working in an operating room, a hazard of which most people are not aware. To protect patients and staff members, Mason Health’s Director of Surgical Services Lori Genson has taken proactive steps toward eliminating smoke hazards in her department, years before a new state law goes into effect in 2024 requiring these protections. Thanks to her efforts, Mason Health has earned the Go Clear Award™ for its achievement in eliminating hazardous smoke from its surgical procedures.

The Go Clear Award is presented by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) to recognize health care facilities that have committed to providing increased surgical patient and health care worker safety by implementing practices that eliminate smoke caused by the use of lasers and electrosurgery devices during surgery. Mason Health earned its award by undergoing comprehensive surgical smoke education and testing and for providing the medical devices and resources necessary to evacuate surgical smoke during all smoke-generating procedures.

“Surgical smoke was a hidden danger that even some of my staff wasn’t aware of,” Genson said.

“Staff safety, in addition to patient safety, is so important to me in health care. Let’s be proactive instead of reactive. This award was not difficult to achieve because we were already way ahead of the game. We had been 98 percent smoke-free for four years, and now we are at 100 percent.”

Surgical smoke is the unwanted by-product of energy-generating devices that are used in 90 percent of all surgeries. Its contents include toxic chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide, viruses, bacteria, blood and cancer cells. Inhalation and absorption of surgical smoke pose serious health risks to patients and surgical staff. Studies compare the inhalation of smoke from vaporized human tissue to the smoke created by cigarettes; the average daily impact of surgical smoke to the surgical team is equivalent to inhaling 27-30 unfiltered cigarettes. Today, it is estimated only 50 percent of health care workers across the U.S. understand the hazards of smoke exposure.

At Mason Health, smoke evacuation systems are in place, wherein all smoke is contained in smoke evacuation tubing that goes through filters so that the smoke is not released into the air inside or outside the hospital. The filter is changed on a schedule and removed in a biohazard bag for disposal.

“Total evacuation needs to become the standard for all procedures that generate surgical smoke,” said Linda Groah, CEO/Executive Director of AORN. “With this award, Mason Health is demonstrating its deep commitment to the health and safety of its staff and community.”

In 2018, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to require that hospitals and outpatient surgery centers create policies to eliminate surgical smoke. Genson, who started at Mason Health in 2017, developed a policy at Mason Health in 2019 about the removal of surgical smoke from operating rooms, as part of work for her master’s degree. In March 2022, the Washington state Legislature passed a law that requires policies addressing surgical smoke to be in place by Jan. 1, 2024.

Genson is a member of Mason Health’s Green Team, which focuses on sustainability efforts throughout the District through Mason Health’s Practice Greenhealth initiative. Learn more at www.masongeneral.com/about/sustainability-environmental-stewardship.

AORN represents the interests of more than 160,000 perioperative nurses by providing nursing education, standards, and practice resources—including the peer-reviewed, monthly publication AORN Journal—to enable optimal outcomes for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures. AORN’s 40,000 registered nurse members manage, teach, and practice perioperative

Mason Health, Public Hospital District No. 1 of Mason County, is ISO 9001 Quality Management System certified by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) and is a licensed and accredited acute care hospital with a level four emergency trauma designation. Mason General Hospital and Mason Clinic are ENERGY STAR® certified and Mason Health is the recipient of Practice Greenhealth Partner for Change Environmental Excellence Awards. There are more than 100 physicians on staff in 19 specialties. For more information or to find a health care provider, visit www.masongeneral.com. To learn more about DNV, visit www.dnv.com/healthcare.


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