New interim guidance on HVAC in the OR, sterile processing department

The current guidelines for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning of operating rooms, sterile processing departments and endoscope procedure rooms come from different sources and are somewhat conflicting. That's why several organizations from across industries have joined a task force to create uniform HVAC standards.

The task force includes members from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers; the American Society for Healthcare Engineering; the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation; the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology; the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses; and the Facility Guidelines Institute.

"Design requirements are not the same as clinical practice recommendations," said Ramona Conner, MSN, RN, the editor-in-chief of AORN's Guidelines for Perioperative Practice and the task force chair. "Our task force will review and clarify which standards are written to be applied during design and renovation of a facility and those that are intended to be used as daily operational guidelines."

Since creating uniform standards will be time-consuming, the task force has issued interim guidance. The task force recommends that healthcare organizations do the following:

  • Put together a multidisciplinary team to review current HVAC operating practice and do a risk assessment of affected areas
  • Put the day-to-day parameters to follow into the organization's HVAC system policy
  • Identify devices and products that require tightly controlled storage conditions and move them into an environment that fits those needs, like a temperature and humidity controlled cabinet

Download the full interim guidance here.

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