ORLANDO, FL, Aug. 14, 2014 — In an effort to give students a first-hand experience with lasers in the operating room, the Laser Institute of America (LIA) is partnering with medical solutions provider Universal Hospital Services (UHS), through its UHS Surgical Services business unit, to offer laser demonstrations at LIA’s Medical Laser Safety Officer (MLSO) training courses.
UHS first demonstrated a CO2 laser at a recent LIA course in Boston. UHS is a nationally recognized provider of state-of-the-art mobile surgical equipment and operates from more than 80 offices across the US.
The CO2 demonstration laser was a big hit at the Boston training course in June, according to LIA Education Director Gus Anibarro. The collaboration with UHS, suggested by LIA medical course director Vangie Dennis, expands upon LIA’s previous use of onsite laser demonstrations for its Advanced MLSO course.
“In the advanced course, we do hands-on skills validation training,” Anibarro says. “We go into the operating room, suit up and fire the laser in tissue (meat and potatoes), and talk about the fine points of laser systems and different delivery systems. It illustrates and reinforces what we discussed in class. We had been using a laser rental company to provide wavelengths that medical course director Vangie Dennis does not have at her (Georgia) facility, but to diversify and expand the course she suggested we team up with a much larger laser and surgical solutions company.”
The broad range of laser wavelengths that UHS has available around the US makes them the ideal partner.
“I show course attendees basic concepts like what a collimated beam looks like, power density and exposure times — I run down the basics of laser operation and do test firing or treatment beam demonstrations,” says Richard Gama, director of clinical services and training for UHS. “I bring all of the proper safety materials, including a fire extinguisher, wet towels, safety glasses and laser safety signs for the door. We walk the walk when it comes to safety preparation.”
The greater purpose of the demonstrations is to build awareness of the need for medical laser safety and the importance of the MLSO.
“There are only about 300 Certified MLSOs (in the US),” Gama notes, “and probably a lot more who are not certified. A very large percentage of the facilities I work with directly do not have any kind of training program or a MLSO. There are a lot of people who need to be trained and receive the kind of exposure our partnership with LIA offers.”
Gama notes that The Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the US, just issued new regulations for surgical lasers. “We have an interest in making sure hospitals receive the proper training,” he says. “We frequently work with facilities that do not have a designated MLSO — or, the one they have lacks the resources or experience to manage a laser safety program.”
Anibarro explains that hospitals sometimes assume they can rely on the rental company’s MLSO. “A lot of hospitals believe that the laser rental company is the Medical Laser Safety Officer, and that they will handle all laser safety in the operating room department,” he says. “That is an unreliable assumption. Even if a facility is renting or borrowing surgical lasers instead of owning them, it is imperative that a facility have its own MLSO, or is outsourcing the position to a qualified organization, who is fulfilling the requirement of The Joint Commission for MLSOs.”
LIA’s next two-day MLSO course will be held Sept. 6-7 in Washington, DC. The course is designed to give operating room personnel a basic foundation in laser biophysics, tissue interaction and laser safety. Laser safety protocols will be addressed according to the ANSI Z136.3 Safe Use of Lasers in Health Care standard, AORN recommended practices and ASLMS practices. The course is worth 9.95 contact hours, 20 CECs by the AAHP and 1.5 BLS CM Points. To register, please visit www.lia.org/store/course/MLSODC0914.
The Laser Institute of America (LIA) is the professional society for laser applications and safety serving the industrial, educational, medical, research and government communities throughout the world since 1968. www.lia.org, 13501 Ingenuity Drive, Ste 128, Orlando, FL 32826, +1.407.380.1553.
As the use of lasers continues to grow in both popularity and applications, so too will the growing demand for trained laser safety professionals. The mission of the Board of Laser Safety is to provide a means for improvement in the practice of laser safety by providing opportunities for the education, assessment, and recognition of laser safety professionals. BLS certification will enhance the credibility of a designated Laser Safety Officer, and demonstrate that individuals serving in the field of laser safety have agreed to adhere to high standards of safety and professional practice. For more information, please visit www.lasersafety.org.
About Universal Hospital Services
Universal Hospital Services, Inc. is a leading nationwide provider of health care technology management and service solutions to the health care industry. UHS owns or manages over 700,000 units of medical equipment for over 8,000 national, regional and local acute care hospitals and alternate site providers in all 50 states.
UHS, through their UHS Surgical Services business unit, gives surgeons and hospitals access to state-of-the-art mobile surgical equipment without the high cost of ownership and the risk of obsolescence. UHS operates from more than 80 offices throughout the U.S. and offers more than 1,000 pieces of mobile surgical equipment across virtually every specialty. Our experienced technicians are involved in more than 50,000 cases a year. For more information, please visit www.uhs.com.