Hazards and Safety of Vaporizers

An anaesthetic vaporiser is a device that is typically attached to an anaesthetic machine which delivers a given concentration of a volatile anaesthetic agent.

Thu Feb 07 2013By Jonathan Payne

An anaesthetic vaporiser is a device that is typically attached to an anaesthetic machine which delivers a given concentration of a volatile anaesthetic agent. The purpose of an anesthetic vaporizer is to produce a controlled and predictable concentration of anesthetic vapor in the carrier gas passing through the vaporizer.

Below, we will address the both the hazards and safety features of contemporary vaporizers.


  • Incorret agent
  • Tipping - if tipped more than 45 degrees from the vertical, liquid agent can obstruct valves.  
  • Simultaneous inhaled agent administration
  • Reliance on breath by breath gas analysis rather than preventative maintenance
  • Overfilling
  • Leaks
  • Electronic failure

Consequences of Not Maintaining Vaporizers:

  • Patient death 
  • Patient awareness (of surgery going on even though they  cannot move or speak.  This can also be considered anesthetic awareness)
  • Regaining consciousness
  • The vaporizer jams up and the surgery can not continue
  • The patient is injured - there is mental and physical trauma

Safety Features:

  • Keyed vaporizers
  • Low filling port
  • Secured vaporizers
  • Interlocks
  • Concentration dial increases output when rotated clockwise


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