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Archive December 2018 XIX, No. 12

Breaking the 3-Minute Turnover

Secrets to cleaning rooms in record time - and not missing a spot.

Dan O

Dan O'Connor, Editor-in-Chief



FAST AND FURIOUS Decreasing turnover time is a constant challenge. Are lightning-fast turnovers possible?

The 4-minute mile was thought to be an impossible feat. Hopelessly out of reach, said the experts. But in 1954, a University of Oxford medical student named Roger Bannister ran the first-ever 4-minute mile and proved the experts wrong. Just as milers have been striving against the clock for years, surgical facility leaders have been struggling to bust through the barriers preventing them from achieving faster room turnovers.

But a 3-minute turnover? Just like a 4-minute mile, humanly impossible, right? Don’t tell that to Lilah De Vito, RN, BA, CVOR, CNOR, who saw firsthand what 3-minute turnovers looked like when she worked at a large academic facility.

“Even on big cases,” says Ms. De Vito, today an OR nurse at Dignity Health Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, Calif. “It was fun, seriously. We treated it like a pit stop in a car race.”

It became a race against the clock, a competition. A man from environmental services they called Coach stood at the OR door with a stopwatch. But he didn’t measure wheels out to wheels in. He started his stopwatch the second the turnover team descended on the room and stopped it when the room was restocked and ready for the next patient — whenever that might be.

Put an asterisk next to 3-minute turnovers if you will, but a turnover team can only control how fast it runs its leg of the relay race. Among other things, opening after cleaning will depend on your cleaning products (aqueous-based remove blood faster than alcohol-based agents), your disinfectant dwell time (look for a 1-minute kill time) and factors out of a turnover team’s control.

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