December 12, 2018

SHEA issues new guidance on infection control in anesthesiology

By: Judy Mathias

Editor’s Note

The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) on December 11 published a new expert guidance on “Infection prevention in the operating room anesthesia work area.”

Key recommendations of the guidance to improve infection prevention include:

  • Increased hand hygiene performed, at a minimum, before aseptic tasks, after removing gloves, when hands are soiled, before touching the anesthesia cart, and when entering and leaving the OR.
  • Use of double gloves during airway management, so one layer can be removed when contamination is likely and the procedure is moving quickly.
  • High-level disinfection of reusable laryngoscope handles or adoption of single-use laryngoscopes.
  • Disinfection of high-touch surfaces on anesthesia machines, keyboards, monitors, and other items in between surgical procedures, as well as use of disposable covers and re-engineering of the work surfaces to facilitate quick decontamination in a short window of time.
  • Use of syringes and vials for only one patient, and disinfection of injection ports and vial stoppers before access.

The authors encourage investment in research to better understand infection control problems posed by the anesthesia work station and to develop design improvements that reduce infection risk.


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