Infection Control Challenges

The majority of infection control practices in the surgical setting are aimed at reducing the risk of a single patient-to-patient transmission. However, this approach is not sufficient to maintain the safe environment needed to provide high-quality care. The surgical environment presents a unique set of challenges that require an adaptive approach to infection prevention and control. First, it is challenging to maintain sterile conditions in an environment that is constantly being used and disrupted by unexpected events, including equipment breakdowns, accidents, and staff injuries. Moreover, surgery centers have limited resources for implementing infection control measures, making it difficult for them to detect and prevent infections before they become serious or spread throughout the facility. As a result, there is a need for comprehensive strategies that address all aspects of the surgical process to create a safe and healthy environment for patients and staff.


Communication and Education

There are many ways to improve communication and education practices in the surgical setting. A surgical safety round could be scheduled to discuss potential risks and solutions to them. Using an infection risk assessment tool can help identify areas that need improvement and serve as a reminder to follow standard precautions. Surgical leaders can encourage staff to communicate with each other to solve problems and share best practices. Providing education that covers the entire surgical process can help staff understand their role in preventing infections. Standardized protocols and checklists can help surgical teams follow best practices and maintain a consistent level of safety across the facility. Standardized protocols can help ensure that the appropriate infection control practices are being used with each procedure. Checklists can be used to ensure that equipment and cleaning procedures are being followed correctly to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Disinfection

Disinfectants are antimicrobial substances used to kill pathogens and prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. In the surgical setting, disinfectants are used to clean and decontaminate equipment, patient-care areas, and surgical instruments between procedures. This process helps reduce the risk of contamination and the potential spread of pathogens. Disinfectants are categorized into two groups: organic and inorganic. Organic disinfectants are derived from natural sources, such as alcohol and phenolic compounds, while inorganic disinfectants are synthetic and manufactured by chemical synthesis. Organic disinfectants are effective against a wide range of pathogens. However, they are less effective in the presence of organic debris and they can cause corrosion and/or staining on metal medical devices. Inorganic disinfectants are effective against a wide range of pathogens and are less corrosive to metal medical devices.

Handwashing and Gloving

Handwashing is one of the most important infection control practices in the surgical setting and is done before and after each procedure. Hands are contaminated during procedures by touching blood, bodily fluids, and other materials that were not intended to be touched. To prevent the transmission of pathogens, staff must thoroughly wash their hands and scrub their hands with enough pressure and duration to remove the organisms before putting on gloves to touch patients. Gloving is another important infection control practice in the surgical setting. Gloves are worn to prevent skin-to-skin transmission between patients and staff members and to protect staff members from blood exposure. All staff members should be wearing gloves when touching blood and bodily fluids. Latex and non-latex gloves are available for different types of procedures. When selecting gloves, it is important to select the correct type of glove based on the type of procedure being done and the risk of exposure to blood or bodily fluids.

Unique Challenges of the Surgical Environment

In the surgical setting, each patient is connected to various monitoring and equipment systems that must be accessed by surgical staff. This presents challenges for implementing the standard precautions, which focus on preventing the transmission of pathogens from patient-to-patient, because surgical equipment can be contaminated with blood and fluids from previous patients. The surgical team must understand the risks of pathogen transmission that may occur during a procedure. To help prevent contamination and the potential transmission of pathogens, surgical staff members must follow correct use and cleaning procedures for equipment such as suction, breathing tubes, and pulse oximetry sensors. They must also use barriers and covers to minimize contamination and potential transmission of pathogens.

Conclusion

Infection control practices in the surgical setting are critical to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases. Surgical staff members must follow proper handwashing and disinfection procedures to reduce the risk of transmission of pathogens. They must also follow correct use and cleaning procedures for equipment such as suction, breathing tubes, and pulse oximetry sensors. The surgical team must understand the risks of pathogen transmission that may occur during a procedure. They must also follow correct procedures for donning and doffing protective equipment to prevent cross-contamination from handling blood and bodily fluids. Comprehensive strategies that address all aspects of the surgical process can help create a safe and healthy environment for patients and staff.