Electricity + alcohol + patient can cause burns

Health Ministry stresses risk of harming hospital patients with diathermy.

Hospital generic 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski  [file])
Hospital generic 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The Health Ministry has reiterated the risk of causing harm to hospital patients with diathermy, a heat treatment using high-frequency electric currents, when the spark becomes inflammable due to oxygen plus alcohol and chlor-hexadine on the sheets in the operating theater. The ministry's public complaints commissioner, Prof. Shimon Glick, was referring to the 2004 case of a woman who had to get a malignancy removed from her breast at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center in Tzrifin. When the diathermic spark set the alcohol on fire, she suffered significant burns on one side of her body. Glick, whose committee's ruling in the case was announced by the ministry only on Sunday, said the members recommended that existing ministry guidelines be studied and implemented by hospitals. The ministry repeated the issuance of its guidelines after another case in 2006, when the alcohol dripped on the sheets and caused a fire. "In any case, the medical staff must make sure that the area of contact between the patient's body and the operating table is completely dry," the ministry said. The committee also recommended the appointment of a committee of experts on infections to look into the use of sterilizing agents that are not inflammable.