Identifiable hazards in the surgical environment are infection, power failure, electrical and mechanical malfunctions, flame, and explosion. Specialized methods or instruments, such as electrocautery, monitoring devices, x-ray and laser equipment, cryosurgery, and so on, each introduces new hazards as they interface with other potentially hazardous necessities of surgery, such as anesthesia. An additional hazard common to any hazardous environment is the hazard of people themselves, their functional integration with their environment, and the quality of their work ethic.
Most surgeons are aware that the ultimate determinants in the outcome of a surgical operation are surgical judgment and skill, and how the surgical team, the tools, and the environment are coordinated. But few have more than a passing acquaintance with the hazards of the surgical environment.
Books, manuals, and volumes of guidelines have, indeed, been written about all these hazards, but they are rarely seen by surgeons. In this symposium, an