FiOR: Automating the future of OR safety

Team:

Program: Biomedical Engineering

Operating room (OR) fires are devastating occurrences with wide ranging consequences that affect both patients and hospitals. In addition to equipment damage and financial costs, OR fires often inflict long lasting physical and psychological harm on those involved. Every year, there are roughly 600 OR fires with approximately 68% caused by surgical heating elements in the presence of high oxygen levels. Through clinician interviews and clinical observations, it was determined that the simultaneous use of monopolar cautery and the administration of oxygen-rich anesthetic gas mixtures accounts for the majority of OR fires. Currently, this is prevented using human communication as the surgeon simply tells the anesthesiologist that
cautery will be used, and oxygen flow is manually stopped. Thus, our project proposes an automated system for shutting off OR cauterizers in the presence of high anesthetic gas flow. The system places a circuit break between the electrosurgical unit and the cauterizer. It gathers flow rate data from within the anesthetic tubing in real-time and uses this data to control the state of the cauterizer circuit. Over the course of the last semester, our team has constructed a series of prototypes and conducted verification and validation testing. Preliminary testing includes verification of the proposed circuitry both in simulations on LTspice and in real circuits constructed with bread boards. Early bench testing using Arduino modules has confirmed successful cauterizer cut-off in response to a threshold oxygen level.


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