In our continuing coverage of how the Ebola virus is affecting medical facilities, Candace L. Samudio, longtime healthcare professional and clinical excellence team leader in the surgical division at Zimmer, provides insight on the importance of surgical helmet systems and stresses the need for ORs and ERs to work together.
Surgical Products: Why is having a Surgical Helmet System with fluid resistant garments so important in the prevention of spreading the Ebola virus?
Candace Samudio: Surgical Helmet System with a one piece, head-to-ankle Toga made of material that has passed AAMI Level 3 testing – meaning it is fluid resistant – better covers exposed areas above the shoulders than the conventional practice of a face shield, goggles, and facemask. Above the shoulder exposure can include the face, neck, mouth, nose, and eyes. If a full length Toga is not available, wearing a Surgical Helmet with a Surgical Hood that is made of material that has passed AAMI Level 3 testing – along with the appropriate PPE gown – better covers exposed areas above the shoulder. When caring for any patient who has a potentially infectious disease, covering exposed areas is ideal.
SP: What safety and infection-control precautions have ORs used that ERs haven’t?
Samudio: OR’s generally follow AORN standards and guidelines. AORN standards may be more stringent in certain areas than house-wide infection control protocols due to the nature of the procedures. For example, in the OR, a team may be operating on a patient who is HIV positive, and therefore certain protocols – especially regarding personal protective equipment and surgical attire – must be perfectly adhered to in order to prevent cross contamination. While ERs also care for HIV positive patients, the nature of the exposure may be different in the OR, hence the stricter standards.
SP: With hospitals across the U.S. scrambling to prepare for a possible Ebola outbreak, why is it so important for ORs and ERs to work together to prevent an outbreak?
Samudio: Infectious disease transmission is a danger for all health care providers, regardless of which area of the hospital they work. Therefore, it’s crucial for all health care workers to come together in a time of crisis and share best practices, especially those who work within the critical care areas of a hospital or healthcare institution. It’s encouraged for anyone who has information that may help in the care of a patient – and the protection of a health care provider – to share what they know.
SP: Has the current outbreak scare affected and/or changed the AAMI Healthcare Gown and Drape standards?
Samudio: While we have designed our Surgical Helmet Systems based on AAMI’s standards, we are not in a position to comment on any changes within AAMI.
Candace L. Samudio is an accomplished healthcare professional with nearly four decades of experience ranging from OR nurse to senior administrator. She currently leads the clinical excellence team in the surgical division of Zimmer, Inc., and resides in Northern California. The opinions are the author’s own.