Dangerous Surgical Smoke Investigation Leads To New Utah Bill
Feb 24, 2020, 9:32 PM | Updated: Jun 22, 2022, 2:59 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — A KSL investigation that found surgical smoke being generated in Utah operating rooms contained the same cancer-causing smoke as cigarettes has led to proposed legislation.
Nurses showed up last week on Utah’s Capitol Hill giving impassioned pleas for clearing the air in operating rooms – for their health and their patients.
“Many of the nurses came in their surgical scrubs which was a really great visual, and several were prepared to do testimony,” said Diane Forster-Burke, professor emeritus at Westminster College.
Forster-Burke and colleague Kathleen Kaufman, R.N. and professor emeritus at the University of Utah, volunteer with the Utah Nurses’ Association.
That organization was formed after KSL TV looked into the dangers of surgical smoke from several tools used in operating rooms, such as electrosurgery units and lasers.
Out of the 46 hospitals in Utah, KSL TV found only one was 100% smoke-free – Shriners Hospitals for Children in Salt Lake City.
“I think it’s absolutely astounding,” Kaufman said. “It’s a move into the dark ages, quite frankly.”
The nurses’ efforts have led to Senate bill 105.
Did you know that tools used in the OR produce the same cancer-causing smoke as cigarettes? My KSL investigation last spring led to proposed legislation. Inspired by their fore sisters, these nurses are advocating for Senate Bill 105. Tonight at 6:30 p.m. @KSL5TV @aorn #ksltv pic.twitter.com/q9zX7t4oQy
— Heather Simonsen (@HeatherKSL) February 24, 2020
The bill has gone to interim study, but these nurses said they will keep it front and center.
“One of the things we were told was, ‘It can’t be a big issue, nobody’s complaining about it,’” Kaufman said. “Well, our job is to get the nurses to start complaining.”
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Kathleen Riebe, D-Cottonwood Heights, said it’s already led to improvements.
“Now that they’ve heard about it, we’ve created a bill file. Doctors have asked us questions, I think it’s going to be moving in the right direction,” she said.
Advocating for the ones who care for us all.
Riebe said she’s confident the bill will get more focus next year, and that “smoke-free” will become the gold standard in Utah.