September 21, 2011 | | Comments 1
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Under Pressure – Positively Clean

In yet another dispatch from the regulatory survey landscape, one item I’ve noticed being cited during surveys are related to the surgical environment–maintenance of temperature and humidity, ensuring appropriate air exchange rates, and making sure that your HVAC systems are appropriately maintaining pressure relationships. The other concern in this realm is making sure that you have a planned response for those instances in which any of the these performance expectations cannot be met. Make sure that the end-users of the environment are clued in to those responses. Depending on where you are, the age of your building systems, etc., you may very well experience (or perhaps have already experienced) performance outside of design/expected parameters (i.e., how’s that climate change working out for your building?)

Minimally, the infection control implications can be far-reaching, and if not appropriately managed, can be devastating to your patients. Likewise, you need to keep a close eye on the pressure relationships between clean and dirty areas; a positively pressured decontamination area can play havoc with the environment in your sterile processing and supply areas. A positively pressured corridor in your surgical area  can have a deleterious effect on your OR procedure rooms.  (Notice I said “area” not “suite”– everyone knows there are no corridors in surgical suites.)

You know how complicated your building systems can be–it’s time to make sure that your end-users understand that when things are not right, we need to collaborate to ensure appropriate protection of our patients. Nobody wants to mess with the OR schedule, but as hospital-acquired infection occurrences venture ever closer to the “never event” it will take a big-time team effort to make sure that our operations (both figuratively and literally) are where they need to be.

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Filed Under: CDC/infection controlEnvironment of care

About the Author: As managing editor, Tami Swartz creates hospital safety, security, life safety, infection control, accreditation, patient safety, and nursing content using expert analysis and input.

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  1. During our recent Joint Commission survey, the AORN standards were referenced. It would be helpful to have a short article on those standards. Thanks.

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