Fluid Waste Management In The OR
Mary Hannon, Aspen Surgical Director of Marketing
Falls are a leading cause of work-related injuries and deaths. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 235,419 falls occurred in 2009, with an estimated 579 of those falls resulting in fatality. The Health Services industry has one of the highest frequencies of fall-related injuries and associated claim costs. One potential cause of these falls includes slips associated with wet floors in the Operating Room. This is particularly true for facilities that are performing fluid intense procedures such as arthroscopies. With this in mind, OSHA, the Joint Commission, AORN, and many facilities are supporting efforts to create and maintain a safer work environment for Healthcare staff.
If a facility is looking for a solution to help more effectively manage fluid waste, they should first evaluate their particular level of fluid. This will largely be driven by type of procedures performed as well as physician technique. Various solutions exist such as disposable absorbent mats, floor suction devices, suction mats, and closed suction systems. Suction devices tend to be more helpful for extremely high fluid procedures because they provide unlimited fluid removal throughout the case. I highly recommend that a facility seek out products that are specifically designed for fluid management in the O.R. Using “everyday” O.R. blankets or towels can pose trip hazards and potential infection control concerns if not properly laundered.
Lastly, once a facility has determined which type of solution is best for their level of fluid, they should trial products from several different vendors to find the best fit for staff preference. Critical features include ease of setup and disposal or reprocessing. For absorbent mats, level of absorption, wicking time, skid resistance, durability, and comfort under foot are key characteristics. For suction devices, noise level, profile of product, and ability to effectively remove fluid from the floor are particularly important.
Bureau of Labor – http://www.bls.gov/iif/ 
Joint Commission –