Breaks in Aseptic Technique Require Review of OR Basics

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A significant number of survey respondents said they had seen their OR colleagues skimp on things like surgical scrub times because they were rushed, possibly compromising sterile technique. “There is a real push for decreased OR turnaround times and that means a lot of corners are being cut,” said one respondent. Another respondent emphasized that it was critical to have “an environment where speaking up about a breach is safe.”

Words of Wisdom

We asked survey respondents to impart their best pearls of wisdom for the edification of their counterparts, and it was encouraging to see the importance placed on addressing breaches when they happen, for starters. “Staff needs to be more aware of the environment around them for the sake of their patients,” one person noted, adding, “Be more observant of others behaviors and point them out when they are wrong.” Speaking up seems to be an easier thing to do these days, as one person noted, “Be a patient advocate and if you feel something might be contaminated, speak up and take corrective action.” Another respondent emphasized, “Don’t be afraid of telling the doctors to wash their hands!” One person said, “Manage the case, do not let the case (or doctors) manage you. Take time to see that your patient and all associated sterility mechanisms are maintained.” Other advice from respondents included “Pay attention to what you are doing,” and “Do not take shortcuts.”

Recommendations from respondents included standardization, as one person noted, “Standardize best practices for all surgical patients. Too many ‘if this, then that’ causes confusion.” Another person advised, “Create standard work processes for surgical hand scrubs, aseptic technique, count process, etc. and conduct random audits to assess compliance.” Yet another person confirmed, “Everyone involved needs to be on the same page.”

Knowing the recommended practices was critical to survey respondents. As one person noted, “All OR personnel and physicians should adhere meticulously to the principles of aseptic technique. Get back to the basics spelled out in the AORN standards.” Another respondent added, “All practitioners need to review the AORN recommendations and standards and follow them. They speak to infection prevention throughout.” Another noted that an annual review of sterile technique with surgeons and staff members was helpful.

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