Aseptic Practices In The Operating Room

Aseptic practices are essential in the operating room for a variety of reasons, but the most important is to prevent contamination and infection. These practices weren’t around in the early beginnings of surgery, though. In fact, the idea of asepsis (sterilizing an area or person to prevent disease-causing contaminants) developed in the 19th century.

The idea of washing your hands prior to tending to someone started with Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician who was dubbed the “savior of mothers” in the 1880s. He discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever, also known as childbed fever, could be decreased significantly by disinfecting the hands before treating pregnant mothers. These findings have since evolved to the practices that are seen in the operating room today. If you ever wondered what physicians do to sterilize your operating room, keep reading to discover the different principles that are involved!

Today, surgeons follow a certain set of standards developed by the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) to ensure the optimal level of asepsis is maintained before, during, and after surgery. Each surgical staff member at Scottsdale Liberty Hospital must implement these practices – there are serious consequences for those who do not abide by these aseptic practices.

First, sterile drapes, surgical tools, and medical equipment must be used to minimize the passage of nonsterile microorganisms. According to the AORN guide, these items should, under no circumstances, be mixed with nonsterile items that have not been cleared by a physician or medical staff member. Speaking of which, all packaged, sterile items should not be opened or used outside the sterile operating room. Again, overlooking these rules can put the patient at risk of infection.

You may be familiar with “scrubbing in” from TV shows or the movies, but every member of the surgical team must wear a sterile surgical gown and mask during surgery. Before surgery, he or she must scrub his or her hands and arms with an antibacterial soap before having sterile gloves placed over them. During this process, an OR nurse or physician will put the surgeon’s gloves on for him or her.

Other practices may include monitoring the sterile environment constantly, staying within the sterile field until the patient’s wounds are closed, and reviewing aseptic practices annually to prevent future complications.

For more information on Scottsdale Liberty Hospital and how we can help you or a loved one, visit our information request page, or contact us at 480-586-2300.

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.