Prevent Surgical Fires


December 9, 2011

FDA CONSUMER HEALTH INFORMATION – FDA and Partners Working to Prevent Surgical Fires

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is building a coalition of public and private healthcare organizations to prevent a medical error—the surgical fire.

A surgical fire is a fire that occurs in, on or around a patient undergoing a medical or surgical procedure.  An estimated 550 to 650 surgical fires happen every year in U.S. operating rooms. Some of the fires cause disfiguring second- and third-degree burns. If the fire occurs in the patient’s airway, it can be fatal.

Recently there have been news reports about two patients who received serious facial burns from surgical fires.

FDA’s Preventing Surgical Fires Initiative (www.fda.gov/preventingsurgicalfires) is a collaborative effort to increase awareness of the risk of these fires and to encourage surgical personnel to work together to adopt practices that will prevent them from occurring. The initiative partners include associations that represent members of surgical teams, healthcare facilities, and healthcare engineering and patient safety organizations.