New Guidance Outlines Recommendations for Infection Control in Anesthesiology

December 11, 2018

A writing panel consisting of experts in anesthesiology and infection prevention has developed new guidance on how hospitals and healthcare providers may reduce infections associated with anesthesiology procedures and equipment in the operating room. The guidance, published in Infection Control & Healthcare Epidemiology, looks to improve patient outcomes through increased hand hygiene, environmental disinfection, and continuous improvement plans.

The key recommendations include:

  • Hand hygiene should be performed, at a minimum, before aseptic tasks, after removing gloves, when hands are soiled, before touching the anesthesia cart, and upon room entry and exit. The authors also suggest strategic placement of alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers.
  • During airway management, the authors suggest the use of double gloves so one layer can be removed when contamination is likely and the procedure moves too quickly to perform hand hygiene. The report also recommends high-level disinfection of reusable laryngoscope handles or adoption of single-use laryngoscopes.
  • For environmental disinfection, the guidance recommends disinfecting high-touch surfaces on the anesthesia machines, as well as keyboards, monitors, and other items in work areas between surgeries, while also exploring the use of disposable covers and re-engineering of the work surfaces to facilitate quick decontamination in what is often a short window of time.
  • IV drug injection recommendations include using syringes and vials for only one patient, and that injection ports and vial stoppers only be accessed after disinfection.

The guidance was endorsed by the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA), the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF), and the Association for periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN), with a letter of support from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).

Access the expert guidance for free at the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America main article.