AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 3, 2017

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Study Finds Too Much Foot Traffic In and Out of Operating Rooms

A “secret-shopper” style study conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins analyzing foot traffic in and out of operating rooms suggests that for the sake of patient safety, OR teams should leave the room less often. During the study, published in the journal Orthopedics, investigators tracked the number and length of door openings during nearly 200 knee and hip arthroplasty surgeries performed at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center over three months. They found enough door openings in nearly one-third of the procedures to potentially defeat the safety effects of so-called positive pressure systems meant to keep germ-contaminated air out of sterile ORs. Excessive OR traffic, the researchers say, is believed to be a common occurrence not unique to Johns Hopkins, and previous studies have documented frequent OR door openings during cardiac surgeries performed elsewhere. “Our findings add to a growing body of evidence of a relatively common practice that could be a potential safety concern, and raises questions about why doors get opened and how we can prevent or minimize the frequency and duration of behaviors that could compromise OR sterility,” said the study’s senior author. Because the research team monitored door openings without the knowledge of OR staff, it’s impossible to say why they occurred in the first place. What they know for sure is that there was a whole lot more traffic in and out of the OR than seems necessary or easily explained, explained the author. To read more about this study, click here.

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