Surgical fires and alcohol-based skin preparations


  • R. Tooher MASA, PhD; G. J. Maddern FRACS, PhD; J. Simpson FRACS, MBChB.

Professor Guy Maddern, ASERNIP-S, PO Box 553, Stepney, SA 5069, Australia.


Alcohol-based skin preparations are known to be flammable. Their use continues despite a significant level of risk. Two cases of fires resulting from ignition of pooled alcohol-based skin preparations are reported. Both cases were associated with use of electrocautery for haemostasis. The literature is reviewed and recommendations are made to reduce the risk of further similar occurrences.