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Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital Recognized for Surgical Safety Program

Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital has earned the Association of PeriOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) Go Clear Award*™, a program to recognize facilities that make surgical smoke evacuation a top priority. Of three levels of distinction, Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital is proud to have achieved the highest Gold level.

Surgical smoke is the by-product of numerous devices in the operating room, including lasers, electrosurgery units, ultrasonic devices and powered surgical instruments. The smoke contains harmful toxic compounds that can affect both patients and healthcare workers. According to AORN*, perioperative nurses report twice as many respiratory issues as compared to the general population.

The AORN Go Clear Award™ is a comprehensive approach to protecting patients and worker safety by promoting a smoke-free environment wherever surgical smoke is generated. Components of the program include testing, staff education, a gap analysis and compliance monitoring.

“Our team studied the effectiveness of our current smoke evacuation system in the operating rooms and conducted trials of add-on devices that can capture potentially hazardous particulates,” said Andrea Nelson, RN, surgical specialty leader at Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital. “We selected and purchased a system that is highly effective, easy to use and quiet.”

A new law took effect in Illinois on January 1, 2022, requiring hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers in Illinois to adopt policies to ensure the elimination of surgical smoke plume. Licensed facilities have until March 30, 2022, to submit their smoke evacuation policies to the Illinois Department of Health.

“We are proud our team was focused on this issue before the state law took effect and we are now ahead of other hospitals in the state,” said Trish Trentz, RN, surgical specialty leader at Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital. “To have the additional work we completed recognized by AORN with a Gold level distinction is an honor. Our staff and patients benefit from a healthier, smoke-free operating room.”

With 425 licensed beds, Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital is the second‐largest hospital in the Northwestern Medicine HealthCare system. With more than 600 affiliated physicians, Northwestern Medicine Palos Hospital offers advanced technology in a scenic, healing environment.