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Archive Orthopedic Surgery 2020

A Better Way to Handle Fluid Waste

Closed disposal systems make ORs safer, greener and more efficient.

Caryn Solomon

Caryn Solomon, RN


ON THE MOVE Mobile fluid collection systems are nimble enough to stay out of the OR team's way, which makes them real staff satisfiers.

Bodily fluid overflow is common during notoriously messy joint procedures. Your staff can stem the tide by attempting to sop it up, but closed mobile collection units are the no muss, no fuss solution to keeping OR floors dry. In my mind they're no-brainers for busy orthopedic centers. Here's why.

  • Major time-savings. Our old fluid-collection method involved four canisters on a wheeled surgical tree. We had to put a solidifier in full canisters, which exposed staff to biohazardous spillage and splashback. Nurses or techs then had to carry filled 3-liter canisters to a dirty utility room to dispose of the fluid waste, putting them at risk of injury from the repeated heavy lifting.

Our facility purchased 11 mobile fluid waste collection systems last year — one for each operating and procedure room. Mobile systems can be rolled into and out of the OR and positioned in a variety of ways that makes it easy to collect fluid without obstructing staff during surgery. For fluid-producing arthroscopy cases, the transition meant we went from lugging and bagging heavy fluid-filled canisters throughout the facility to rolling one of the new devices to a docking station.

The old process was as time-consuming as it was aggravating. You had to double-bag the canisters and take them to the utility room after each procedure. The larger reservoirs in the mobile units make it extremely rare for us to have to empty the system after each case, even during procedures that produce high volumes of fluid.

Even if you bagged the canisters as you went during the procedure, you weren't able to fully concentrate on the case, which led to other inefficiencies. We're definitely able to schedule more cases because we've reduced our turnover times now that we're not dealing with more than a dozen canisters during each surgery.

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