Archive Staff & Patient Safety 2017

Prevent Slips, Trips & Falls in the OR

Cords, clutter, puddles and other hazards can lead to workplace injuries.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief


floor of a surgical suite WATCH YOUR STEP The floor of a surgical suite is littered with potential slipping and tripping hazards.

Have a nice trip. See you next fall. Taking a tumble in the OR is no laughing matter. From cables and cords to kick buckets and step stools, the surgical suite is a minefield of potential slipping and tripping hazards. Surgical staff hit the deck. A lot. And more than their egos are bruised when they trip over cords or slip on fluid. In an Outpatient Surgery Magazine survey of 379 facility leaders, 60% said a staff member or a surgeon sustained an injury from slipping or falling in the OR. For 25%, it was a serious injury.

Karen Hausteen, RN, CNOR, of Phoenix, Ariz., remembers the time she nearly broke her hip during a case. She was scrubbed in and standing on a step stool to assist. "The circulator had draped the grounding pad cord behind me, without saying anything. When I stepped off the stool I tripped and fell to the side and back. I barely missed hitting the sterile back table. Thank heavens I did not break my hip!"

The hard fall bruised Ms. Hausteen from waist to knee. It was an expensive fall in terms of X-rays and time off work, but it could have been much worse. Circulators, says Ms. Hausteen, need to be aware of where they drape cords, and alert staff members in the room.

It seems most surgical facility administrators know of a staff member or surgeon who sustained an injury from slipping or falling in the OR. Here are a few examples from an online survey we conducted. Could any of these happen in your rooms?

  • A nurse walked into the OR and tripped over a stool that was left right in front of the door.
  • A surgeon dropped some tissue on the floor. A nurse who was focused elsewhere stepped on the tissue, slipped, fell and broke her wrist.
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