Safety

Door alarms limit OR foot traffic and infection risks

Hospital Safety Insider, November 22, 2017

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A new study published in Orthopedics has found the best way to cut the number of unnecessary foot traffic in the operating room (OR) is by installing a door alarm. About a third of door openings during surgery are for unessential reasons, like future planning and social visits. 

The opening and closing of doors during surgery increases the risk of infection to the patient, particularly in rooms where air pressure is controlled to prevent the airborne bacteria from infecting immune-compromised patients. One study has found that any increase in the number of door openings during surgery increases the risk of infection by 70%.

During the study, opening the OR door would trigger a double chime that would repeat every three seconds until the door was shut again. Using this method, they were able to reduce the average “open door” time from 14 minutes to 10. Other methods aren’t nearly as effective, according to the study’s authors. Rules restricting OR access are often ignored, and locking the door can impede patient care.

That said, the researchers noted that once alarm fatigue sets in, the door alarms would lose their effectiveness.

"Despite the limited long-term effect of this alarm, it should bring further attention to excessive operating room traffic," they write. "Continuing education and awareness may be necessary to maintain the results found in this study."
 



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