Archive Staff & Patient Safety 2018

Keep Fluid Off the Floor

A look at automated collection and disposal options that will keep your staff safe.

Bobby Underwood

Bobby Underwood, BSN, RN, CNOR, CRNFA


Pamela Bevelhymer, RN, BSN, CNOR
LOW FLOW Overflow in the OR increases exposure risks to potentially infectious fluid waste and creates slipping hazards around the surgical table.

Fluid waste that spills onto OR floors is annoying to splash around in and a pain to clean up. It's also dangerous. A coworker of mine once slipped on a wet spot and broke his fall with what turned out to be broken wrist. It was an unfortunate accident, which occurred when the only available option to collect fluid waste involved sucking as much runoff as possible into open containers, adding a solidifying agent and lifting the containers into red bag waste.

That method is the simplest, but also the most dangerous, option for keeping OR floors dry. Open containers expose you to sloshing fluid when adding the solidifying agent and increase the risk of repetitive strain injuries every time you bend down to pick up and move filled containers. Fluid runoff is also a serious hazard if it pools anywhere near electrical wires on the floor.

Those risks can be avoided with these closed, direct-to-drain methods for collecting and disposing of fluid waste.

  • Wall-mounted disposal. You capture fluid waste in reusable or single-use closed containers and attach filled containers to wall-mounted drainage units, which automatically empty the contents and pump them into the sewer. This is a cost-effective and safe method of fluid waste management.
  • Mobile collection units. Self-contained mobile units can be rolled into and out of ORs and positioned around the rooms to make fluid management efficient and unobtrusive. Suction tubing extends from several ports on the unit to collection pouches on surgical drapes, instruments with built-in evacuation ports (our orthopedic surgeons, for example, work with arthroscopic shavers that feature integrated fluid removal ports) and floor-based wicking devices or suction mats. The mobile units have a variety of suction pressures that you can adjust based on the amount of fluid being produced during the case.

Staff have essentially no contact with fluid waste, which is suctioned into the large-capacity mobile units. The units are easy to push and pull around the facility with proper body dynamics. There's no physical strain whatsoever. When a mobile unit reaches capacity, a staff member rolls it to a stationary docking station, which automatically empties the unit in minutes.

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