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Archive April 2020 XXI, No. 4

Thinking of Buying... Floor-Based Fluid Management Devices

Keep your ORs dry with these quicker and safer picker-uppers.

Joe Paone

Joe Paone


Surgeries can be splashy, messy affairs. Floor-based fluid management mats and pads are a more effective and economical option than throwing blankets, towels or sheets down around the OR table to absorb fluid runoff. These products save on laundering costs, keep your surgical team safe from slipping hazards and help speed up room turnovers. Some even offer ergonomic benefits.

There are a lot of models to consider. Here's a look at the various factors you should consider when evaluating these floor-based super soakers:

  • Disposable or reusable? Many mats are essentially high-tech paper towels that you must properly dispose of as medical waste at the end of the case. Others are reusable, particularly the ergonomically friendly mats.
  • Suction or absorption? Some mats connect to direct-to-drain suction systems, absorbing fluids and directing them away from the OR table. Others are like sponges, super-absorbent fluid collectors on their own. When evaluating these products, compare how powerful the suction is or how absorbent the mats are. There will be differences.
  • Size. As you'll see in the product profiles on the following pages, floor-based solutions come in all sorts of dimensions. It's best to measure the area where fluid usually spills during operations to get an idea of which size would be best for your purposes.
  • Profile. How flat do you want the mat to be? Could people trip over an edge? Can you roll instrument carts and other equipment over it or does it bunch up? Consider these factors when shopping the options.
  • Ergonomics. How does the mat feel under the surgeon's feet, and how does it impact their posture and balance, especially during long cases? Some mats are marketed for their comfort and anti-fatigue properties.
  • Ease of use. How long does it take to set up the mat between cases, and how easy or difficult is it to do so? If it's single-use, how easy is it to pick up and throw away?

You'll want your OR teams to trial every product you're considering. They won't know how the products will perform until they're used in live cases. If you're a multispecialty center, try them with a range of case types with different surgeons, procedure lengths and fluid intensity. You might find that different pads work better for different procedures. OSM

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