VOL 92, 6S, OR PRODUCT DIRECTORY
© AORN, Inc, 2010
Thinking About Safe Surgical Attire
Experts suggest quality, consistency, awareness are key themes to keep in mind as all perioperative
professionals think about what they are wearing and how this supports safety
Carina Stanton, MA, BSJ
Senior News Editor, AORN
It happens every day. A perioperative health care professional heads to work wearing
scrub attire. On the way she takes her child to school, drops the dog at the groomer,
and stops for gas, picking up infectious organisms along the way that her patients may
be exposed to. After her shift, she leaves the facility without changing out of her scrub
attire. She gets the dog, grabs her dry cleaning, picks up her child from day care, and
heads home, leaving her work day scrubs in the laundry room for washing. By wearing
her surgical scrubs outside of the facility and making routine stops on her way, she has
just put herself, her family, and her community at risk by possibly carrying dangerous
pathogens from her health care facility, including methicillin-resistant
aureus, Clostridium difficile
and other infectious organisms.
“What professionals wear in a health care setting can become so automatic that they
forget to think about what they may be carrying on their clothing and their hands.
Awareness about safe practices for surgical attire is so important to reinforce,” said
Joan Blanchard, MSS, BSN, RN, CNOR, CIC, an AORN perioperative nursing specialist
responsible for overseeing AORN’s recommended practices for surgical attire.
Blanchard, Melanie Braswell, MS, RN, CNS, DNP, CNOR, Nancy Bjerke, MPH, RN,
CIC, and other members of AORN’s Recommended Practices Committee have been
working with infection control experts, laundering specialists, and others to update
AORN’s Recommended Practices for Surgical Attire.
“The key regarding surgical attire is to keep in mind patient and personal safety.
Because surgical attire is something perioperative nurses ‘do’ every day, it’s important for
perioperative leaders to regularly remind their teams about the safety hazards that can
occur if nurses don’t follow appropriate guidelines for surgical attire,” Blanchard stressed.
“This is a message that can’t be repeated enough.”
When it comes to safe practices for surgical attire, Blanchard said there should be a focus
on quality, consistency, and awareness that starts with facility administration and is fol-
lowed through with every staff member entering the perioperative suite. Health care
leaders should provide their perioperative personnel with policies, procedures, regular
education and policy review, and adequate clean attire inventory as part of their daily
work Fow, Blanchard said.
The health care organization should provide freshly laundered or disposable surgi-