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Blood contacts during surgical procedures


Operating room personnel are at risk for infection with blood-borne pathogens through blood contact. To describe the nature and frequency of blood contact and its risk factors, trained observers monitored a sample of operations performed by six surgical services at Grady Memorial Hospital, Atlanta, Ga, for 6 months. In 62 (30.1%) of 206 operations, at least one blood contact was observed. Of 1828 operating room person-procedures observed, 96 (5.3%) had 147 blood contacts (133 skin contacts [90%], 10 percutaneous injuries [7%], and four eye splashes [3%]). The mean number of blood contacts per 100 person-procedures was highest for surgeons (18.6). The frequency of percutaneous injury was similar among surgeons and scrub staff (mean, 1.2 per 100 worker-procedures for each group). Risk factors for surgeons’ blood contacts were (1) performing a trauma, burn, or orthopedic emergency procedure (odds ratio [OR], 4.1; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.0 to 8.7); (2) patient blood loss exceeding 250mL (OR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.2 to 3.7); and (3) being in the operating room longer than 1 hour (OR, 3.3; 95% CI, 1.6 to 7.1). Of 110 blood contacts among surgeons, 81 (74%) were potentially preventable by additional barrier precautions, such as face shields and fluid-resistant gowns. Twenty-one (84%) of 25 blood contacts among surgeons in procedures in which all three risk factors were present were potentially preventable by additional barriers. Of 29 blood contacts among anesthesia and circulating personnel, 20 (69%) would have been prevented by glove use. For surgical procedures in which operating room personnel are at increased risk of blood contact, reevaluation of surgical technique, use of appropriate barrier precautions, and development of puncture-resistant glove materials are indicated.

Panlilio AL, Foy DR, Edwards JR, Bell DM, Welch BA, Parrish CM, Culver DH, Lowry PW, Jarvis WR, Perlino CA

JAMA 1991 Mar;265(12):1533-7

PMID: 1999903