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HomeHealth articleshand hygieneWhat Is the Significance of Infection Control and Prevention in Operation Rooms

Infection Control and Prevention in OT- Overview

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Infection control and prevention in the operating room guarantee the best outcomes for patients having surgical procedures. Continue reading to know more.

Written by

Krupamol Joy

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Shivpal Saini

Published At May 29, 2023
Reviewed AtJanuary 31, 2024

Infection control and prevention in the operating room is a critical aspect of healthcare aimed at preventing the spread of infections during surgical procedures. Infection control measures are put in place to minimize the risk of patients developing surgical site infections (SSIs) or other healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

Infection control and prevention in operation theaters are of utmost importance because surgical procedures carry a risk of infections. Any surgical procedure, no matter how minor or major, can result in the introduction of microorganisms into the patient's body, potentially leading to surgical site infections (SSIs) or other healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). These infections have the potential to result in extended hospital admissions, higher healthcare expenses, and even fatalities.

To lower the risk of infections among patients and medical personnel, infection control and prevention in operating rooms are important. Healthcare professionals can reduce the risk of infections in the operating room by adopting the necessary measures for infection control in surgical settings.

What Are the Measures of Infection Control and Prevention in Operation Theaters (OT)?

In order to ensure that patients receive safe and effective surgical care and that healthcare personnel are safeguarded from potential risks of infections, infection control and prevention in operating rooms are essential. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria are a rising concern in hospital settings, and infection control and prevention strategies can help stop their spread and associated complications. The measures for infection control and prevention are broadly categorized into two:

1. Standard Precautions:

The standard precaution includes undertaking the following measures:

  • Hand Hygiene: All healthcare professionals should wash their hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers to maintain proper hand hygiene.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): To stop the transmission of illnesses, healthcare personnel should wear PPE such as gloves, masks, gowns, and eye protection.

  • Aseptic Procedure: Aseptic technique involves using sterile equipment and maintaining a sterile field during medical procedures, such as surgery or insertion of a catheter, to prevent contamination and infection.

  • Environment Hygiene: Prior to and following each surgical procedure, the operating room should be properly cleaned, paying particular attention to high-touch areas.

  • Reprocessing of Instruments: To reduce the risk of infection, surgical instruments and equipment should be sterilized before and after each use.

  • Waste Management: Sharps and medical trash should be disposed of properly, as should all other waste produced during surgical procedures.

2. Universal Precautions:

  • Management of Blood Spillage: In order to prevent a blood spill from spreading and potentially contaminating adjacent locations, it is crucial to contain the spill when it happens in a medical setting. Immediately cover the spill with paper towels or other absorbent material and dispose of it in accordance with the facility's protocol. Additionally, in order to avoid exposure to blood-borne pathogens, healthcare workers should put on proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

  • Post-Exposure Management: A healthcare professional should start post-exposure management as soon as possible if they are exposed to a patient's blood or other bodily fluids. Cleaning and sanitizing the afflicted region, taking the proper prophylactic medication (such as an antiviral drug), and undergoing further testing to check for any potential infections may all be necessary.

What Is the Procedure and Guideline for Infection Control and Prevention in OT?

The CDC recommendations for the prevention of surgical site infections are as follows:

1. Pre-Operative: Pre-operative infection control and prevention measures aim to minimize the risk of infection before a surgical procedure. These measures may include:

  • Examining individuals for infection risk factors like diabetes or obesity, or other medical conditions.

  • Improving the patient's underlying health issues before surgery.

  • Rational administration of right antibiotic prophylaxis prior to surgery.

  • Educating patients on how to properly care for their skin and their hygiene before surgery.

  • Ensuring suitable environmental controls in the operating area, such as appropriate ventilation and cleaning procedures.

2. Intra-Operative: Intraoperative infection control and prevention measures aim to minimize the risk of infection during a surgical procedure. These measures may include:

  • Using sterile methods to avoid contaminating the surgical site during the process.

  • Using and discarding sharps, such as needles and blades, correctly.

  • Monitoring the operating room's environmental parameters, such as temperature and humidity, to prevent infection.

  • The operation room's movement and traffic should be kept to a minimum to lower the danger of infection.

  • Employing personal protective equipment (PPE) correctly to stop the transmission of illness, such as gloves, gowns, and masks

3. Post-Operative:

Post-operative infection control and prevention measures aim to minimize the risk of infection after a surgical procedure. These measures may include:

  • Monitoring and treating surgical wounds properly can promote healing and prevent infection.

  • Administering the proper antimicrobial prophylaxis after surgery, if necessary.

  • Putting in place the necessary environmental controls, like suitable cleaning and disinfection procedures, to stop the transmission of diseases.

4. Surveillance: Surveillance for infection control and prevention involves ongoing monitoring of infection rates and identifying trends or outbreaks.

What Are the Barriers to Infection Control and Prevention in OT?

The barriers that may hinder effective infection control in operation rooms are listed below:

  • Patient Factors: Patients may be more susceptible to infections, making infection control procedures more difficult if they have underlying medical disorders, weakened immune systems, or poor personal hygiene.

  • Time Restrictions: In OT, it can be challenging to adhere to proper infection control precautions, such as complete washing and disinfecting of equipment and surfaces between procedures, due to time restrictions and the requirement for swift patient turnover.

  • Limitations in Structure and Design: OTs' structural and design flaws may reduce the efficacy of infection control measures. For instance, insufficient ventilation systems, hand hygiene stations, and storage capacity can all compromise infection control.

  • Limited Resources: Practices for infection control may be limited by a lack of resources, including inadequate space, a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), insufficient cleaning supplies, and inappropriate equipment.


Infection control and prevention in the operation theatre are essential to ensure the safety of patients and healthcare workers. The risk of infection transmission in the operating theatre is high due to the invasive procedures and patients' vulnerability to infections during surgery. Proper sterilization techniques, hand hygiene, and personal protective equipment can significantly reduce the incidence of surgical site infections and other hospital-acquired infections. Additionally, regular monitoring of infection rates and adherence to infection control protocols can further enhance patient safety in the operation theater.

Dr. Shivpal Saini
Dr. Shivpal Saini

General Surgery


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