Shut it! Keeping OR door closed reduces infections

Preventing surgical site infections could be as easy as shutting the door. Researchers testing air quality in operating rooms (ORs) found that repeatedly opening and closing the OR door increased particle distributions and the risk of contamination.

Analyzing air particle counts (APCs), researchers aimed to find a correlation between door openings, traffic and other activities. In a week-long investigation, the study recorded APCs in 5-minute intervals and the movement of healthcare workers. Findings were published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

Information on traffic, door openings, job title of opener, reason for opening were recorded.

Results included:

  • One OR door was open 47 percent of the time.
  • There was an average of 13.4 door openings per hour.
  • Door opening rates ranged from 0.19 to 0.28 per minute.
  • Overall, 660 air measurements were calculated.
  • The average APCs were 9.24 at baseline and increased to 14.29 during surgery, a 13 percent increase when either door was opened.
  • Increased door openings correlated with larger particles, leading to larger bacterial measurements.

“We observed numerous instances of verbal communication and equipment movement,” concluded Jonathan Teter, MS, CIC, first author on the study, and colleagues. “Improving efficiency of communication and equipment can aid in reduction of traffic. Further study is needed to examine links between microbiologic sampling, outcome data, and particulate matter to enable study of risk factors and effects of personnel movement.”