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Archive Infection Control 2020

Standardize Your Skin Prepping Practices

Reducing variation and rooting out technique flaws are the keys to preventing SSIs.

Jared Bilski


Jesse Hixson, MSN, RN, CNOR
PRE-OP PRACTICE Prior to prepping, it's essential to do a proper assessment of the patient's anatomy with a focus on the extremities.

Imagine working in a facility where 50 orthopedic surgeons have their own unique skin prepping protocols. Factor in 20 nurses who are trying to support the variations in prepping each of these surgeons brings to the OR and that’s asking for problems, says Khaled J. Saleh, MD, MPH, MHCM, FRCS(C), CPD, the CEO of Saleh Medical Innovations Consulting and Sphere Orthopaedics & Regenerative Health.

“The risk of error increases significantly when there’s a great amount of variation in technique,” says Dr. Saleh, who also serves as executive director of EPIC Health System Advanced Multispecialty League, is a clinical professor of surgery at Michigan State University and an attending surgeon and section chief at the Surgical Outcomes Research Institute VAMC.

“Error is the threat to successful surgery. You have to have a standardized system in place to minimize variation.”

A standardized system is an imperative with a process like skin prepping, in which rampant variation can exist in everything from training to solutions to application technique.

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