Proper airflow in the OR helps control the spread of infectious agents’, which can lead to surgical-site infections (SSIs). SSIs are a major cause of post-surgery complications and, in rare cases, even mortality. They’re incredibly costly and are the most common type of healthcare-associated infection (HAI), accounting for 25% of all HAIs in New Zealand.²
To prevent the spread of these infectious agents, ORs are designed with a positive pressure system that ensures air flows into the room rather than out of it. This helps prevent contaminants from entering the room and ensures any contaminants generated within the room are quickly removed.
Proper airflow also has key benefits for staff by ensuring a comfortable temperature and a maintained humidity level which helps to reduce fatigue and improve the overall performance. Not only that, it also helps control volatile organic compounds (VOCs) generated during surgical procedures. VOCs are chemicals released into the air during surgery from cleaning solutions and chemicals used in anaesthesia. Correct airflow helps remove these chemicals from the OR and minimises potential health risks.
A positive pressure system helps maintain the operating room’s overall cleanliness. The OR is a high-traffic area, meaning the surfaces and equipment in the room are constantly exposed to contaminants. Some of these contaminants are removed from the room with positive airflow, in turn reducing the risk of cross-contamination.