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Patient Comfort and Safety Continues as a Top Priority

Published: October 15, 2020

Proper temperature management, skin and nasal decolonization play important roles in safety and effectiveness in the OR

SWABBING FOR SAFETY Credit: 3M Medical Solutions Division, USAC
SWABBING FOR SAFETY Nasal decolonization is an important aspect of both patient safety and risk management.

Patient safety – as well as offering the highest level of comfort possible for each patient – continues to drive the evolution of what constitutes efficient and effective surgeries in today's environment. Surgical teams are focused on delivering the best care for every patient and every procedure and in every situation.

While the goal has always been for patients to move through surgery safely and begin the road to recovery without complications, the current pandemic era has made clinicians look even more closely at current processes.

Today's focus is on developing additional steps that may help to reduce the risk of complications and, in turn, reduce readmissions as much as possible. Of course, there are already methods in place to reduce the risk of complications by following evidence-based practices, applying consistent protocols, and defining what constitutes a high-risk patient and/or procedure today.

"We are in an environment where we have always worked to reduce risk," says Kim Prinsen, RN, MSN, clinical applications specialist for 3M Medical Solutions. "There are additional protocols we can follow for all patients, like patient temperature management and skin and nasal decolonization, that can further reduce risk." In fact, these protocols clearly play important roles in the pre-op and patient preparation and lead to successful outcomes.

In the area of temperature management, for example, it is highly important to maintain the patients' core temperature before, during and after surgery. Even a minor drop in core body temperature can result in unintended hypothermia. This is a common, yet preventable complication associated with an increased risk of surgical site infection (SSI)1,2, longer length of a potential hospital stay3 as well as other costly, potentially deadly consequences.

Another area of focus is skin and nasal decolonization, which contributes to the overall patient experience. A recent article by Drs. Engelman and Arora ( recommends routine universal decontamination, rather than nasal swabbing and screening urgent and emergent surgical patients for S. aureus to reduce the risk of exposure to healthcare workers posed by this practice. 3M Skin and Nasal Antiseptic is a simple, one-time application that reduces nasal bacteria, including S. aureus by 99.5%, in one hour and maintains this reduction for at least 12 hours. This recommendation to address staff safety as well as patient safety comes in addition to the CDC's recommendations for nasal decolonization, at a minimum, for high risk surgical procedures.


  1. Melling AC, Ali B, Scott EM, Leaper DJ. Effects of preoperative warming on the incidence of wound infection after a clean surgery: a randomized controlled trial. Lancet. 2001;358(9285):876-880
  2. Kurz A, Sessler DI, et al. Perioperative Normothermia to Reduce the Incidence of Surgical-Wound Infection and Shorten Hospitalization. New Engl J Med. 1996;334:1209-1215
  3. Bush H Jr., Hydo J, Fischer E, et al. Hypothermia during elective abdominal aortic aneurysm repair: The high price of avoidable morbidity. J Vasc Surg. 1995;21(3):392-402
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