July 12, 2023

Automatic vs direct observation monitoring of OR traffic

Editor's Note

This study by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC Mercy, examines OR traffic monitoring with direct observation and an automated counter.

Direct observations were collected during neurosurgical procedures and included OR traffic, hand hygiene, and information on the type of healthcare worker and reason for traffic. Automated monitors collected time-stamp data of the number of people crossing the sensor and in which direction they went.

During 10 hours of direct observation:

  • The OR door opened 174 times for an average of 18.1 times per hour, and 19.3 people entered or exited per hour.
  • On average, there were 3 minutes and 18 seconds between door closing and opening again.
  • Going to get supplies, performing hand hygiene, or having a task to perform made up 39% of reasons for entering or exiting.

During 20 hours of automated data collection:

  • The monitors counted 568 people entering or exiting the OR.
  • On average, 27.2 people entered or exited per hour.

Excessive OR traffic can predispose patients to surgical site infections. Direct observation provides information and opportunity for education and feed back, but it is time-consuming. OR traffic monitoring with an automated counter is inexpensive and allows for extended monitoring, the researchers conclude.


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