BATON ROUGE – The Senate Committee on Health and Welfare advanced a bill Tuesday to require Louisiana operating rooms to have equipment to remove harmful surgical smoke plumes.
The bill’s author, Sen. Gerald Boudreaux, D-Lafayette, said operating-room patients emit “surgical smoke plume,” or actual smoke, when treated with a heat-generating device. He said the smoke “is prevalent in operating rooms across the state” and is extremely harmful if inhaled.
Boudreaux said “evacuation system” refers to devices that filter and remove the chemicals in the smoke.
Committee members voiced no resistance in advancing the bill, Senate Bill 29. It will need further legislative approvals to become law.
“The purpose of the bill is for safety for everyone in there: the doctors, the patients, the nurses and everyone else in there,” Boudreaux said. “This is not a punitive bill, not to point a finger at anyone but to bring awareness.”
The executive director of the Louisiana State Nurses Association (LSNA), Ahnyel Burkes, said Louisiana must join other states in implementing evacuation systems in operating rooms.
Louisiana is one of the 19 states that are considering legislation to mitigate surgical smoke in operating rooms. Eleven states have passed such legislation. Eight others, including Louisiana, had not.
Burkes noted that surgical smoke plume has “over 150 different things that can be harmful according to the EPA,” including the Human papillomavirus and several carcinogens.
Nurse Natalie Walker, who works in operating rooms, said at the committee hearing that the lack of smoke evacuators has been a problem since the early 1990s.
“It’s very important for the safety, not just for all the health care providers going in and out of an operating room, but the patient,” Walker said.
After the committee approved the amendments, Boudreaux turned to the several nurses who attended the session and celebrated the outcome for nurses, doctors and patients in Louisiana.
“Thank you all for coming,” Boudreaux said. “Your voices are being heard.”