4 common surgical attire safety issues

Wearing proper attire in the operating room can help minimize risks of surgical site infections, but it can be difficult to get OR staff to break old habits that may not conform to recommended best practices, according to Lisa Spruce, DNP, RN, director of AORN's Evidence-Based Perioperative Practice.

In a piece for Periop Insider, Dr. Spruce uncovers four of the most common and potentially dangerous surgical attire safety lapses and how they can be rectified.

1. Not covering hair completely. Dangerous germs, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, can live in hair and isn't always removed by washing. Not covering the hair completely could allow those organisms to infect the environment. Instead, OR staff should wear a clean surgical head cover or hood that confines all the hair and ears.

2. Not covering ears. Ears are home to bacteria that could dislodge and get into the OR environment. Similarly with covering hair, the surgical head cover or hood should cover the ears as well.

3. Letting masks hang around necks. Nurses sometimes pull masks down after a case but don't remove the mask completely. The contaminated mask could contaminate the rest of the scrub attire or jacket. After every case, the mask should be removed and discarded, and nurses should only handle the mask's ties. They should then perform hand hygiene.

4. Washing scrubs in the home. AORN recommends that everyone who enters a semi-restricted or restricted area should wear scrubs washed at a healthcare-accredited laundry facility or disposable scrubs, as those facilities must comply with rigid standards and processes that aren't enforceable in the home.

More articles on surgical attire:
What not to wear in the hospital
AORN updates perioperative guidelines: 5 things to know
AORN's new surgical attire recommended practices: 5 points to know

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