The operating room is a highly specialized room, and it is vital that everybody, including the patient, can function safely and effectively while in it. This means that you have to follow the etiquette of the room, which is organized by the circulator. The circulator is also responsible for setting up the mayo stands , which should not be touched by anyone. Let’s take a look at further operating room etiquette.
Operating Room Etiquette
● Never touch the mayo stand. If you need something from it, ask, and if you want to put something on it, the scrub nurse will do it. Even once the patient wakes up, you should not touch the mayo stand, as it has to remain sterile in case of sudden complications.
● The anesthesia equipment should only be used by the properly trained technicians. If you touch it accidentally, tell the anesthetist straight away so they can check it.
● Your hands should never fall to your side after scrubbing in. Instead, sterile gloved hands should rest on sterile surfaces. Any items should be passed back to back.
● Always wear a clean scrub suit the minute you enter the corridor to the OR. You must cover your hair with a surgical cap and tuck the rest of your hair in. Your shoes should be completely covered. These items are all disposable. Put your surgical mask on before you enter the OR, making sure it is properly molded to your face. Have a splash shield on, or safety glasses or goggles.
● Stand anywhere so long as you are not in the way of anyone else. Many people who don’t have to act continuously will stand at the head of the table. Don’t do this until after the anesthesiologist has anesthetized the patient.
● If you are not scrubbed in, you can’t touch sterile things. The best thing to do is clasp your hands behind your back so that you can’t accidentally touch something. If you do, inform the circulator so the area can be sterilized again. If you are scrubbed in, however, you can only touch sterile things and not anything non-sterile.
● You shouldn’t talk during the procedure. You are there to listen, watch, and learn, or to perform a procedure. The exception is if you are the surgeon, in which case you speak to give instructions.
● Never enter the OR if you are ill. However, if you feel the urge to cough or sneeze and you can’t resist it, move away from the patient straight away. If you can’t do this, look directly at the wound, so that your mask will make your sneeze or cough come out the sides, rather than directly at the patient. Do not stay in the same position and turn your head away from the wound, as this means your sneeze or cough will be projected straight onto the wound.
This is all standard OR etiquette and all of it makes logical sense. However, with everything that is going on, it is all too easy to forget something.