Northwest Hospital Earns National Recognition as Maryland’s First Hospital with Completely Smoke-Free Operating Rooms

This article originally appeared in a LifeBridge Health press release.

Randallstown, MD – A groundbreaking achievement for Northwest Hospital as it becomes the first hospital in Maryland to eliminate hazardous smoke from operating rooms and earn the prestigious Gold Level “Go Clear Award™” from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) and the Outpatient Surgery Magazine’s first place OR Excellence award for Staff Safety.

This pioneering effort at Northwest Hospital is designed toprotect the health and safety of patients and OR staff members by keeping them from inhaling smoke and residue generated during about 90 percent of the procedures and techniques performed in operating rooms. Surgical smoke – also known as surgical plume - is generated when electrosurgery is used to cut and coagulate tissue.

“Thanks to the hard work and commitment of the Northwest Hospital Surgical Services Best Practice Council, perioperative leadership, anesthesia providers, physician champions and engaged staff members, we have achieved 100 percent compliance for providing non-toxic,smoke-free surgical environments for our patients and our staff,” says Debra Kording, BSN, RN, CNOR, a clinical education specialist and leader of the project.

To qualify for the “Go Clear Award™,” Northwest’s employees underwent comprehensive education and testing, and the perioperative leadership provided the medical devices and resources necessary to remove the smoke generated during surgeries.

According to AORN, studies have found that when electrosurgery is used, one gram of human tissue is the equivalent of smoking six cigarettes in a 15 minute period. That smoke can contain toxic chemicals, viruses, bacteria, blood and cancer cells so the effort to remove it is vital.

Major changes were put into place in Northwest Hospital operating rooms such as the use of smoke-free electrosurgery equipment which included a new evacuation system for collection of surgical smoke. In addition, specialized filters were purchased for laparoscopic surgical procedures to prevent the absorption of smoke plume to the patient. These required a significant commitment of time and investments from the hospital’s leadership.

Specific benefits to having smoke free operating rooms include reducing carbon monoxide exposure to patients, decreasing the hazardous exposure and side effects of smoke to operating room teams that spend long periods of time in ORs and increasing the ability of surgery teams to see better during procedures.

Northwest Hospital’s 12 operating rooms went smoke-free on May 2 of this year. The other hospitals in LifeBridge Health with operating rooms are working toward making these changes as well.

The “Go Clear Award™” was one of two national honors the hospital received in October. It also earned the first place OR Excellence Award for Staff Safety from Outpatient Surgery Magazine.

About LifeBridge Health

Northwest Hospital is part of LifeBridge Health, one of the largest providers of health services in Maryland. In addition to Northwest Hospital, LifeBridge Health consists of Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Carroll Hospital, Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital, LifeBridge Health & Fitness, hundreds of primary care and specialty physicians throughout Maryland, and many affiliated health-related partners. LifeBridge Health has the technology, skills and proficiency of an academic system with the warmth and personal attention of a community hospital. More information is available at

About AORN

AORN represents the interests of more than 160,000 perioperative nurses by providing nursing education, standards, and practice resources—including the peer-reviewed, monthly publication AORN Journal—to enable optimal outcomes for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures. AORN’s 40,000 registered nurse members manage, teach, and practice perioperative nursing, are enrolled in nursing education or are engaged in perioperative research.

  • US
  • UK
  • IT
  • ES
  • DK
  • SE
  • NO
  • DE
  • FI

Please select your region:

Please confirm that you are a healthcare professional.

I am a healthcare professional