Hospital Operating Room Theater Environmental Infection Control Testing

Surgical-site infection is one of the leading complications of surgical procedures. The use of ultra-clean air in operating rooms (ORs) has been shown to reduce surgical infection rates significantly especially for implant surgery.  Under normal circumstances, the main source of airborne microbial contaminants is microscopic skin fragments given off by the patient and staff members within the OR theater. Air testing of operating rooms should be performed after any substantial renovations or modifications have been made that may have affected airflow patterns, or to confirm the effectiveness of sterile cleaning of the air handling systems.

At a minimum, a plan should be put in place to annually validate the number of air changes in the operating room. Particle counting and microbial air sampling can be valuable techniques to determine the effectiveness of the OR laminar flow HEPA/ULPA filters within these controlled environments.  Currently, there are no US standardized methods or frequencies for airborne bacterial /bioaerosol air sampling within ORs.  Applying industry cleanroom technology standards like ISO 14644 and ISO 14698 for OR theaters can assist in establishing minimum environmental microbiological air quality protocols.

Higgins can assist with:

  • Air quality particle testing for testing to ISO clean zone standards (ISO 14644);
  • Culturable airborne bacteria and bioaerosol (mold spore) air sampling (ISO 14698);
  • Qualitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) air sampling for nosocomial thermophillic bioaerosols;
  • Post-construction/renovation air testing within the operating rooms & sterile eqpt. corridors;
  • Verify air change rates and velocities and set-backs of laminar flow HEPA / ULPA filters;
  • Water testing of surgical hand-washing stations for HPC, Legionella, E-Coli and total coliforms;
  • Surface microbiological sampling using wipes, TSP monitor, RODAC plates, or swabs;
  • Testing differential pressures and airflow visualization within the OR theater.