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Taking Time Out for OR Surface Disinfection

by Rosie D. Lyles, MD, MHA, MSc

Ringing in a new year marks the perfect time to reflect on current OR surface disinfection practices and how we may improve upon them. This year, take time out and reevaluate some of the following practices to help your facility prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections.

OR Cleaning and Disinfecting Best Practices

There can be a rush to clean the OR in between procedures, but do not let that get in the way of cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the correct manner. Monitor staff to ensure they clean and disinfect as recommended by industry guidelines from the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, and the Association for the Healthcare Environment, including:

  • Use a clean, lint-free or microfiber cloth moistened with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectant with appropriate microorganism kill claims (e.g., C. difficile, VRE, MRSA).
  • Disinfect from high surfaces to low surfaces and from clean to dirty areas.
  • Disinfect floors surrounding the patient area between patients.

In addition, ready-to-use wipes are especially useful in the OR. A study in the June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control found high cleaning efficacy (84 to 96 percent) and a high staff compliance rate (84 percent) when using ready-to-use improved hydrogen peroxide wipes for in-between case disinfection in the OR. [1]

New Technology Considerations

OR Today Magazine | Clorox AdviceAORN recommendations indicate that surgical procedure rooms and scrub/utility areas should be terminally cleaned daily.[2] For terminal cleaning your facility may want to consider adding an extra layer of protection with ultraviolet radiation (UV-C) technology. While manual surface disinfection is still essential for removing soils and killing pathogens on surfaces, UV-C devices can serve as a supplement to inactive microorganisms in areas that may have been missed by manual cleaning, high-risk areas, or hard to reach areas (e.g., walls).

Researchers from the University of North Carolina recently found that UV-C technology effectively reduces environmental contamination in patient rooms and should be considered when environmental transmission is significant. The study results showed that a UV-C device achieved a total 3.56-log10 reduction for MRSA in five minutes and a total 2.78-log10 reduction for C. difficile spores in 10 minutes.[3]

If your facility is interested in UV-C devices, consider some of the following questions:

•Does the device kill the most relevant pathogens in healthcare facilities? How fast?
•Can housekeeping staff easily operate the device?
•Does the manufacturer provide a bundled approach, which includes protocols for both manual disinfection and UV-C decontamination?
•Is the device affordable? What is the total cost of ownership when service and replacement parts are taken into account?

For more OR cleaning and disinfecting tips, visit



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