Contamination in the OR

Clinical Study

    Forced Air Contamination in the OR
    Victor R. Lange, PHD, JD, MSPH, ICP, CRC, CRA | AHMC - Greater El Monte

    Perioperative patient warming to maintain normothermia reduces hypothermia complications, which helps to improve postoperative results, and may contribute to shorter hospital stays. Forced-air warming (FAW) devices can introduce bacteria into operating environments via surface-component contamination and tissue-air connection, increasing surgical-site infection (SSI) risk. 


    The 2020 Virtual AORN Global Surgical Conference & Expo brings together 40,000+ perioperative nurses, professionals, and exhibitors for online learning. A study by Healthcare Epidemiologist and Clinical Research Expert, Victor R. Lange, PhD, JD, MSPH, ICP, CRC, CRA, is featured in the AORN event. Dr. Lange's study, "Forced Air Contamination Risk in the OR," collected new FAW-bacteria correlation data to better understand risks and inform infection-control protocols that mitigate healthcare-associated infection (HAI) risk. 


    Dr. Lange's study revealed almost half of samples cultured at higher-than-minimum-acceptable colony-forming unit (CFU) pathogen levels, including 37.2% of FAW equipment samples and 5.3% of air samples, and nearly one quarter at higher-than-maximum-acceptable CFU pathogen levels. Study discussion observed, “OR theater air-quality monitoring and HEPA-filter and FAW-unit maintenance may not adequately prevent microorganism communication and transmission.” The study found, “Data identified a correlation of positive airborne samples for instances that had high-pathogen contamination in the warmer-temperature components, contributing to increased patient infection and SSI concerns.” Finally, the study concluded, “FAW device-component contamination may be a heightened risk in the OR…Cross-contamination of the environment remains a risk…[and a] reduction in surface and airborne CFUs may positively reduce SSI and HAI risk.” 


    The AORN 2020 Global Surgical Conference & Expo presentation on the study is available online in the event virtual exhibit hall through July 2020. AORN members may view it anytime; guests may register to view it for free here or access a researcher-provided copy of the poster below. The study results also were presented by Dr. Lange at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) 2019 Annual Conference in June 2019. An abstract of that APIC presentation can be found here


    Download full Poster Presentation