Surgeons use lasers for a variety of inpatient and outpatient procedures. Perioperative nurses should have a basic understanding of the physics involved in producing the beam of energy and the risks associated with laser use. Although perioperative laser safety is the responsibility of all personnel involved in a laser procedure, health care facility leaders can implement certain strategies (eg, creating a laser safety committee with a laser safety officer) to help team members mitigate risk. This Back to Basics article reviews the history of lasers and identifies safety issues that perioperative nurses may encounter during laser procedures. It also discusses ways to prevent adverse outcomes associated with laser use and provides resources for additional information. By reviewing this article, perioperative nurses and leaders should be able to identify gaps related to laser safety that may be present in their organizations.
Key words: laser, fire prevention, eyewear, laser safety officer, nominal hazard zone.