Brussels, November 2022 – The Surgical Smoke Coalition (SSC), a pan-European movement created to raise awareness on the risks associated with surgical smoke, is thrilled to announce the publication of the results of its first survey among healthcare professionals (HCPs) on surgical smoke in five European countries!
Designed and distributed by EORNA and Stryker, two SSC members, the survey was conducted in 2020-2021 across five European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom (UK). Its objectives were to gain a deeper understanding of:
(1) awareness levels of surgical smoke by HCPs working in hospitals.
(2) their experiences and knowledge of symptoms associated with it.
(3) the risk management measures put in place in hospitals.
More than 800 HCPs responded to the survey and shared experiences from their respective countries.
The results of the survey show a worrying trend across Europe in terms of awareness of surgical smoke and its potential impact. In fact, around 65% of respondents in France and Italy stated that they had not received any information about surgical fumes and its risks.
Most HCPs who responded to the survey expressed their concerns about the health risks associated with surgical fumes. These concerns were often associated with the observation of concrete negative effects of surgical smoke on their health. For instance, in France, 55% of HCPs reported headaches associated with surgical smoke, while 38% also reported suffering from cough or rhinitis.
As for the equipment used to protect HCPs, the survey sheds light on a lack of adequate measures with regular surgical face masks most often used as the only protection against surgical smoke in most countries: the UK (85%), France (80%), Spain (78%), and Italy (59%).
Even if the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of protecting the health and safety of HCPs, survey respondents explained that unfortunately no new measures or protocols for surgical smoke were introduced in most countries by hospital management during this period. This is the case for Germany (93%), Italy (69%), Spain (62%), and the UK (52%). As surgical smoke can also transmit infections, such as live bacteria and viruses as, for instance, the human papillomavirus (HPV) during gynaecologic laser procedures, it is concerning that no new measures have been introduced to protect HCPs.
To conclude, the survey paints a concerning picture for the occupational health of HCPs in operating rooms, across Europe. In light of the survey results, we call on policymakers, regulators, and hospital managers to raise awareness and take on appropriate measures to ensure HCPs are safe against the risks associated with exposure to surgical smoke.
You may find below the survey pagers summarising the outcome of the survey for France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK in English and also individual translations.