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Surgical Fire Investigations

Recognized as a leading world expert on the topic, for more than 40 years Mr. Bruley has researched, investigated, published, and lectured on the causes and prevention of surgical fires. Though rare, such fires are potentially disfiguring or fatal medical accidents that have occurred with even the most experienced surgeons and OR teams. 


That work, along with that of his ECRI colleagues, resulted in the production of a nationally distributed training video for prevention of surgical fires on patients for the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation. 


Scores of publications by Mr. Bruley and ECRI staff  (download an extensive bibliography below) and work by medical societies and healthcare agencies have resulted in a >70% decline in surgical fires since 2004 (Bruley, et al. PA Patient Safety Authority 2018: in press)

References: Surgical Fires

ABC NEWS   November 24, 2017

Good Morning America Video

Inside the renewed push to prevent surgical fires.

Surgical fires typically involve the drapes and towels on the patient. Anesthesia breathing circuits or tubing can also ignite. 

Burned infant ventilator breathing circuit from surgical fire
Re-created surgical fire

Surgical drapes and cotton towels fires easily ignite when oxygen builds up beneath them during certain surgeries. 

Intense oxy-enriched surgical fire re-created for educational video

Infant anesthesia breathing circuit ignited due to oxygen leak from a loose connector at the mouth during cardiac surgery.

Endotracheal tube fire demonstation: oxygen-enriched
Burned endotracheal tube from fatal fire during tracheostomy surgery. Sample new tube below.

Endotracheal tubes in the airway can ignite due to accidental contact with surgical lasers or electrosurgical probes.

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