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Home E-Weekly October 1, 2020

Reducing Complications During Surgery

Published: October 1, 2020

The current COVID-19 era has made clinicians and surgery teams look for additional steps to reduce the risk of complications and find ways to operate as efficiently as possible.

3M Credit: 3M Medical Solutions Division, USAC
Patient safety encompasses the entire journey from preparation to surgery to recovery.

Surgery facilities across the nation are resuming surgeries at different levels, depending on their locations, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Elective surgeries never fully stopped, but the challenges of resources, safety and a swiftly evolving healthcare crisis created one of the most difficult environments to navigate this year.

Since patient safety is always top of mind for hospitals and surgery centers, delays in scheduling surgeries during the rise of the pandemic caused a backlog of patients and demanded new safety protocols be put in place. The priorities for practicing safely in this new environment, reducing complications, and managing efficiently have all come into sharper focus as healthcare teams work to resume surgeries.

Today's concerns revolve around safety for both patients and staff. Kim Prinsen, RN, MSN and clinical applications specialist for 3M Medical Solutions explains, "It is important to ensure your staff understands their selection of personal protection equipment (PPE) and they should know the proper donning and doffing procedures to protect themselves."

Reducing contaminations is also a major concern as facilities and clinicians work diligently to keep patients safe through infection prevention, including improved hand hygiene, isolation room procedures and single-patient use considerations, based on WHO and CDC recommendations.

The current healthcare environment is unique, say Prinsen, but patient safety and treating patients with the highest level of care are still the most important parts of the patient journey – from patient preparation to surgical intervention to patient recovery. "Being focused on foundational practices is as important as always," she says.

The current COVID-19 era has made clinicians and surgery teams look at the current process even more closely for additional steps that may help reduce the risk of complications, reduce readmissions, and find ways to operate as efficiently as possible. As surgeries resume, protocols may vary and include requiring rooms to remain vacant for a period of time between occupancy to allow time for air exchange and cleaning.

Resources are available to help healthcare professionals navigate the return to surgery with confidence and adjust to the current environment as well as changing circumstance, says Prinsen, including 3M's respiratory protection (, cleaning monitoring ( and reducing contaminations ( tools.

"Protocols and practices during the COVID-19 pandemic may change, and as we learn more, we adjust," she explains. "The things we have done and the steps we take to protect patients are still best practices."

Finding the best resources and balancing the risks by addressing all of these important factors is how healthcare teams are finding the way to provide the highest level of care for their patients.

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