Archive March 2018 XIX, No. 3

Keep Your Staff Safe

The OR can be a dangerous place for your employees.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief

BIO

Protective Equipment
BARRIER PROTECTION Perioperative nurses should always wear their personal protective equipment.

The OR is a dangerous place. Every day, surgical staff trip over cords, get splashed by blood and bodily fluids, are cut and punctured by scalpels and syringes, are exposed to radiation, and pull muscles or strain tendons while trying to lift or move heavy objects (or patients). The injuries are not always the kind you'd expect. A recent reader survey turned up these hard-to-believe injuries:

  • Employee stepped on a piece of glass while changing.
  • Hydrogen peroxide spray from a cleaning wipe went into an employee's eye.
  • Hit head on open cabinet.
  • Cut by an instrument.

Not much you can do to prevent those types of injuries, but here's some advice on keeping your staff safe, starting with surgical smoke.

1. Smoke evacuation. What good is a smoke evacuator if your team doesn't use it? That's the problem Terri Foster, BSN, RN, CNOR, the surgical services educator at Allegiance Health in Jackson, Mich., recently was up against. Smoke evacuators were being used in less than one-third of cases.

"The initial barriers included the bulkiness of the tool and the loudness of the machine in operation," says Ms. Foster. "The biggest thing surgeons wanted was something that wasn't going to be in the way. Noise was the other consistent objection."

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