Anesthetic Hazards and Precautions in a Veterinary Practice Video

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  • 0:00 Anesthetic Gas
  • 0:45 Leaks & Scavenging Systems
  • 2:24 Vaporizers and Soda Lime
  • 3:40 Gas Cylinders
  • 4:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
This lesson will outline the dangers of working with gas anesthetics and things you can do to protect yourself from these potential hazards. It will also cover important terms like vaporizer, soda lime, and more.

Anesthetic Gas

Have you ever heard of nitrous oxide? It's colloquially called laughing gas. It's a substance more commonly used in human medicine than veterinary medicine. But it, and other inhalant anesthetics, are no laughing matter, despite the name. Inhalant (inhalation) anesthetics are chemical compounds used for general anesthesia that are inhaled and exhaled via the lungs.

Long-term exposure to inhalant anesthetic gas can be harmful to people. In fact, it can cause spontaneous abortions, nerve damage, birth defects, and damage to organs, like the kidneys and liver. Now you know why it's no laughing matter. So, let's take a look at some of the points related to anesthetic hazards in veterinary medicine.

Leaks & Scavenging Systems

Upwards of 90% of anesthetic gas found in a surgery room can be attributed to leaks in the anesthesia machine. This means that you should always check for leaks in the machine and all hoses connected to the machine prior to its use.

Once you've checked for leaks, ensure the rebreathing bags and hoses you use are of the appropriate size for the patient and always make sure to inflate the endotracheal (ET) tube cuff once the ET tube is placed inside the patient. Only then should you connect the ET tube to the machine and start the flow of gas. In some cases, you'll need to use a mask on a patient, in which case you must ensure the room you are doing this in is very well-ventilated.

When surgery is over, allow oxygen flow to continue after the gas anesthetic has been turned off in order to flush any remaining anesthetic gas through the scavenging system. The scavenging system is a part of the anesthetic machine circuit that discards excess gas in a safe manner.

The scavenging system is the best way to reduce excess anesthetic gases where you work. In some cases, the waste gases are simply exhausted outside of the building, and in other cases, they are sent to a canister that's used as part of the anesthetic machine. Think of the canister as a trash can but for gas.

One important point when it comes to working with anesthetic gases is that if you are pregnant, you need to discuss your working environment with a human physician, and let your supervisor know immediately. Your place of employment will have policies in place for such a scenario as to what you can and cannot do for your safety and that of your unborn child.

Vaporizers and Soda Lime

If you're a man, or you're not pregnant, you'll likely be tasked with refilling the anesthetic machine vaporizer, a part of the anesthetic machine that helps deliver the necessary concentration of anesthetic vapor to a patient. It's actually filled with a liquid version of the gas anesthetic first.

So, make sure you fill the vaporizer in a well-ventilated area and use a funnel to help you. Spilled gas can vaporize into the air around you and make you sick.

If you break an entire bottle, evacuate people from the area right away. Once exhaust fans and windows have been opened up, kitty litter can be used to soak up the liquid substance, and that can then be placed in a plastic trash bag.

In addition to refilling the vaporizer, you'll probably be tasked with replacing the soda lime, a carbon dioxide-absorbing substance composed mainly of calcium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. Carbon dioxide is breathed out by the patient and is captured in a canister that contains white-looking soda lime granules. They typically turn purple when they need to be replaced.

When changing these, wear latex gloves because wet soda lime (from humidity) can harm you. Dispose of used soda lime granules in a plastic trash bag.

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