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Although the surgical smoke plume is an occupational risk to dermatologic surgeons at any time, it also has the possibility of becoming a vector of infectious particles during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors suggest several safety measures to consider when utilizing smoke generating devices in dermatologic practices.
A fitted N95 mask rather than a surgical mask should be worn when working in the vicinity of plume smoke because viral particles can aerosolize. Electrocautery devices should be used at the lowest effective setting to minimize smoke production. Devices such as ablative lasers create lower temperature plumes, which are believed to be more likely to contain infectious particles. Lastly, bipolar cautery may generate a lower concentration of aerosolized particles compared with monopolar cautery.
– Margaret Hammond, MD
This abstract is available on the publisher's site.
The ongoing 2020 pandemic of COVID-19 has exposed novel occupational hazards resulting in dynamic changes in practices across the medical field. With regard to the field of dermatology, nonurgent outpatient procedures were suspended at various institutions during the surge and peak outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Given that the rise in new COVID cases has seemingly begun to stabilize in various areas, routine health care services have gradually resumed. As dermatologists, it is necessary that we start to address the backlog of patients with potentially malignant conditions or skin disorders significantly impacting the quality of life in a timely fashion.