St. Joseph’s Health Care London becomes first Canadian hospital with a Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer

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Nearly 1000 medical procedures a year at St. Joseph’s Health Care, London (SJHC) make use of the latest in laser surgery. The SJHC Urology Clinic, for example, is a world leader in the use of lasers in the treatment of patients suffering from renal and urethral calculi. In fact, the use of lasers in these situations has become the gold standard for care. Lasers are also used extensively in ophthalmology and gynaecology procedures. With a growing demand for this type of minimally invasive surgery, it is reassuring for patients that St. Joseph’s has become the first hospital in Canada with a Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer (CMSLO).

Sue Taylor is an RN who has worked as St. Joseph’s Laser Safety Officer for several years. However, when the American Board of Laser Safety instituted a certification program for medical lasers in 2004, Sue jumped at the opportunity. In doing so she became the first person working for a Canadian hospital to receive the CMSLO designation.

For Sue the road to medical laser certification began with years of nursing experience in a number of different capacities, including a strong focus on minimally invasive surgery. According to Sue, “The last step in the certification process was a challenging exam from the Board of Laser Safety (BLS). Now that I am certified in this field there are ongoing education requirements for my recertification in three years time.”

In her capacity as Laser Safety Officer, Sue fulfills a variety of roles. These roles include teaching nurses and physicians about laser safety, ensuring CSA and Operating Room Nurses Association of Canada (ORNAC) standards are maintained and she acts as a clinical resource person in OR. Besides training St. Joseph’s staff, Sue has had the opportunity to provide laser safety education to health-care providers at hospitals throughout Southwestern Ontario.

Sue’s hard work is helping to ensure St. Joseph’s adheres to high standards of safety and professional practice in the use of medical laser technology.