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BLS Illumination Award: Elevating Safe Medical Laser Programs in the Operating Room

Board of Laser Safety Illumination Award - inscribed with the Agiliti name - March 2019

Agiliti is honored to be recognized for the 2019 BLS Illumination Award, emphasizing the importance of promoting safe medical laser programs in operating rooms across the healthcare industry.

Award Recognition

Earlier this year, the Board of Laser Safety (BLS) selected Agiliti as one of two recipients of the 2019 Illumination Award. The award recognizes an institution, company or organization that directly employs a certified medical laser safety officer, provides encouragement and support for employee participation within the laser safety community, and has made outstanding contributions to the field of laser safety.

On March 18, we were honored to accept this award at the 2019 International Laser Safety Conference in Orlando, Florida. To explore how Agiliti met the qualifications for this esteemed honor, let’s first review some of the challenges facing many operating rooms across the country.

Agiliti receives the BLS Illumination Award for advancement of medical laser safety practices
Brad Jacobsen and Richard Gama, Agiliti, receive the BLS Illumination Award.

Key Issues in the Operating Room

Over the last decade, transformative changes and cutting-edge advancements in laser technology have pushed the boundaries of what is now possible in the OR.

But change doesn’t come without its challenges. The advancement of surgical technology has introduced new risks, not the least of which include patient incidents and related litigation. The prevalence of unintended incidents has drawn the attention of healthcare’s foremost accreditation and federal regulatory bodies (The Joint Commission, OSHA).

While many providers are aware of these challenges, adopting an evolving set of surgical laser safety standards is often easier said than done. Some leading organizations have implemented ANSI-required Laser Safety Committees, or adopted laser safety program policies and procedures, but few have yet to employ a full-time, dedicated Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer (CMLSO) to monitor and enforce the control of laser hazards and ensure the highest standard of safety. Fewer still meet all applicable industry standards. In fact, we have found that among current laser operators, as many as 70 percent lack the necessary certification to applicable regulatory standards for laser and patient safety.

70% of laser operators are not appropriately certified to regulatory standards
Based on research conducted by Agiliti and verified by customers.

With limited resources to manage the evolving need for medical laser safety standards, laser safety management is often viewed as a shared responsibility among nurses, laser operators, biomedical technicians and third-party providers – a formula that falls short of ANSI standards. And, despite the best intentions and focused efforts to drive high-quality patient outcomes, ­stretching staff responsibilities beyond their core areas of focus has been shown to create gaps in the care environment that put patients and caregivers at risk.

Common issues include inappropriate laser technique, damage to endoscopes, unsafe fiber handling, improper eyewear safety, or inadvertently leaving the laser in “ready” mode resulting in accidental firing. Combined, these risks can amplify concerns around a hospital’s primary focus – patient safety.

Standards set forth by organizations like ANSI provide a solid foundation for best practices within an OR, however we believe customized policies should be in place that reflect the hospital’s unique OR environment.

Below, Richard Gama, CST/CMLSO, Director of Clinical Services Training at Agiliti, explains why:

Partnering for Excellence

In 2014, Agiliti began working with The Laser Institute to enhance their world-class MLSO education and training courses and to provide education and hands-on training for medical laser safety officers and other healthcare laser safety programs. The goal of our partnership is to increase the level of compliance and quality in healthcare facility laser safety programs for the benefit of patients and care personnel.

Further reflecting our commitment to quality and patient safety, Agiliti currently employs one of the highest numbers of CMLSOs at a single medical organization in North America. Our CMLSOs provide laser safety in-service training, laser safety compliance assistance, laser safety assessments and policy reviews in addition to overseeing and maintaining our own laser training and certification program.

The BLS Illumination Award recognized our commitment to helping provider organizations achieve excellence in medical laser safety practices. The video below offers a quick recap of the award criteria as well as why Agiliti was selected.

Driven to Meet the Changing Needs of Healthcare

For 80 years, we’ve witnessed the shifting dynamics in healthcare, adapting to meet the needs of our customers and their patients. Throughout our company’s history, we have helped providers navigate those changes with leading ideas and programs driven and delivered by in-house experts like those of our dedicated surgical services team.

Across the country, our 3,000+ team members are united by a fundamental belief that every interaction has the power to change a life. This belief inspires the work we do each day and highlights our unwavering commitment to quality and patient safety. Agiliti is “behind the scenes” of many stages of the delivery of care, and that is a privilege and a responsibility we do not take lightly. We hold ourselves to the highest quality standards and certifications in the medical device industry in order to safeguard the trust and peace of mind of our customers, and for the simple fact that on any given day it could be one of our own family members, colleagues or friends in need of care, in need of our equipment, or the experienced technical services we provide.

It is because of this belief that we are so honored to receive the BLS Illumination Award, as recognition of our pursuit to support best in class medical laser safety practices, and as affirmation of our teammates’ tireless commitment to making healthcare safer and more efficient for providers and patients everywhere.

Learn more about how Agiliti can support facility laser programs, or explore our MLSO resources.

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