SHEA 2018 Guideline for infection control in anesthesiology
The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA) has issued a new expert guidance on how hospitals and healthcare providers may reduce infections associated with anesthesiology procedures and equipment in the operating room.

The guidance has been published in the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology and recommends steps to improve infection prevention through increased hand hygiene, environmental disinfection, and continuous improvement plans.

According to the authors “The potential for clinically significant microbial cross transmission in the intraoperative environment poses a threat to patient safety. A growing body of literature has shown contamination in the anesthesia work area, including the anesthesia medical work cart, stopcocks, laryngeal masks and laryngoscope blades, touchscreens, and keyboards, as well as on providers’ hands, resulting in transmissions, healthcare-associated infections, and increased risk of patient mortality.”

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 in 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 should only be accessed after disinfection.

About SHEA
The Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA)is a professional society that improves public health by establishing infection prevention measures and supporting antibiotic stewardship among healthcare providers.

Note: This list is a brief compilation of some of the key recommendations included in the Guideline and is not exhaustive and does not constitute medical advice. Kindly refer to the original publication here: The Healio version can be read here: