Despite efforts to minimize risk of infection after surgery, surgical site infections (SSIs) have not been completely eliminated.
Jonathan Schoenecker, MD, PhD, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, in Nashville, TN, and colleagues tested the hypothesis that stuffed animals or other “comfort” items that pediatric patients bring to the operating room might represent a reservoir of bacteria that could contribute to SSIs. The researchers swabbed stuffed animals that were brought into the operating room and quantified bacterial growth.
They report in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics that all of the stuffed animals showed bacterial growth. They further demonstrated that a single wash-and-dry cycle in a household washer/dryer, followed by sealing a stuffed animal in a plastic bag for 24 hours, effectively “sterilized” 79% of the items tested.
Although the study does not establish that stuffed animals cause SSIs, the researchers suggest that washing a comfort item one day before elective surgery might be a simple and effective way to reduce overall bacterial load in the OR.
Another option might be to place the comfort item into a large “zip bag” and keep with the other personal items that are returned to the patient in the recovery area, says Mark Mayo, CASC, executive director of Golf Surgical Center, Des Plaines, IL. “That way these contaminated items are isolated from the procedure room and reduce the potential for cross contamination,” Mayo says.
To access the abstract, go to http://1.usa.gov/1Bl6tvj.