OR Doors are Open for Collaboration

An operating room nurse is not an infection preventionist and of course, the reverse is also true. But when these professionals come together with their respective experience and knowledge, when they collaborate and share responsibility for the care of every patient, the potential for healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) is dramatically reduced in the surgical setting as well as throughout the facility.

The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) has increased its collaborative efforts this past year by working with professional organizations and industry partners in support of programs that would help direct all healthcare professionals, regardless of their specialty, toward improved infection control. We partnered with the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) to support International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW). IIPW, which took place Oct. 18-24, was the perfect opportunity for AORN executive director/CEO Linda Groah, RN, MSN, CNOR, NEA-BC, FAAN, to urge AORN members to open the door to the surgical suite and to invite infection preventionists into the department. As we all have observed, the relationship between our departments is too often developed due to a crisis. We need to turn that around, be proactive and be committed to the prevention of negative outcomes.

Through generous support from 3M Health Care, AORN was able to launch a national hand hygiene campaign called, “It’s in your Hands.” The campaign helped spotlight the recently updated “AORN Recommended Practices for Hand Hygiene in the Perioperative Setting,” and has engaged and recognized healthcare professionals from around the country to demonstrate exemplary hand hygiene compliance. The campaign included a YouTube video contest in which updated hand hygiene protocols were depicted in short videos. The winning video will be selected by popular vote from three finalists that were recommended by the AORN Recommended Practices Committee for having accurately, thoroughly and appropriately represented AORN Recommended Practices, as well as the ability to serve as an educational tool. To help with any tie-breakers, our judges also evaluated the videos based on creativity. The winner will be announced at Congress in Denver on March 15.

To further support the collaboration of professionals within healthcare facilities, AORN has developed a line of new products called “Confidence Based Learning.” Available for download from the AORN Web site, these are education modules designed to create mastery of knowledge with titles including “High Level Disinfection,” “Sterilization in the Perioperative Setting,” and “Safe Environment of Care.”

Our Webinars are scheduled throughout the year to address hot topics. Our most recent Hot Topic webinar, titled “Infection Prevention: The Next Level” with Cynthia Spry, RN, MSN, MA, CNOR, covered best practices to prevent surgical site infection. It provides information related to factors that occur in the pre, intra, and post op periods that contribute to surgical site infection and how perioperative nurses can impact these factors. The Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goal No. 7 mandates that staff be educated about healthcare-associated infections, multidrug-resistant organisms and prevention strategies. This Webinar contributes to meeting that goal and as with all AORN Webinars, it was recorded and can be downloaded from the AORN Web site.

“Safe Practices for Sterile Medication Handling in the Ambulatory Setting” with Cecil King, RN, MS, CNOR, and Lisa J. Thiemann, CRNA, MNA, “Sharps Safety - Preventing Sharps Injuries in the OR with Ramon Berguer, MD,FACS, and “Ambulatory Surgery Center (ASC) - Infection Control” were all well attended and also remain available on our Web site.

Our collaborations in 2010 will continue to promote safety and optimal outcomes for patients undergoing operative and other invasive procedures by providing practice support and professional development opportunities. And we know that working with healthcare professionals on both sides of the double doors will help lead us all toward a safer environment for staff and patients.

At the 57th AORN Congress, this year in our hometown of Denver, March 13-18, we will celebrate our theme of “Reaching the Peak of Perioperative Practice: Safety, Quality, and Collaboration.” Throughout the conference, a dynamic lineup of speakers will discuss safety and quality as well as healthcare reform and politics. Our list of speakers includes Janet M. Corrigan, president and chief executive officer of the National Quality Forum, Atul Gawande, MD, whose work with the World Health Organization created the surgical checklist, Paul Keckley, PhD, health economist, David Gergen, political analyst with CNN, and patient safety expert Charles Denham, MD.

We hope you’ll join us at Congress and collaborate to open the doors to the operating room.

Patrick E. Voight RN, BSN, MSA, CNOR, is president of the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN).

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