Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami built a negative air pressure room to handle patients with the virus.

“A group of engineers from the University of Miami worked to construct an examination room,” explains Zubair Ansari, MD, assistant professor and medical director of outreach, cataract, comprehensive, and global ophthalmology at Bascom.

Staff created a negative pressure room for patients who needed emergent eye surgery and who tested positive for COVID-19 (or even exhibited viral symptoms). “All patients who go into that room need double masks. Our physician and ophthalmologist wear the N95 mask and a head shield when they examine those patients,” Ansari explains.

The room has been maintained for COVID-19 patients through the summer and moving into the fall. “We were fortunate to have that room because I don’t know of any other way we could examine [COVID-19 patients].”

Healthcare leaders may be looking for technological solutions like this to keep ORs and other spaces free from the virus. The authors of a recent study found using an air scrubber and combining it with a portable plastic wall could keep particles as airborne and small as SARS-CoV-2 from circulating.1

The authors of another study suggested placing COVID-19-positive or suspect patients in a room with negative air pressure that ventilates directly out of the hospital.2

In yet another study, researchers found using a negative pressure environment is ideal to reduce dissemination of the virus, especially if this special room is separated physically from the other ORs.3 Each OR included its own ventilation system and integrated high-efficiency particulate air filters. Staff minimized air flow by locking all doors to the OR during surgery, leaving only one exit/entry route.

In March, the FDA issued guidance suggesting UV disinfecting devices could augment disinfection of health surfaces after manual cleaning. Also, UV devices or air purifying devices may be used to kill pathogens and microorganisms in the air.


  1. Mousavi ES, Godri Pollitt KJ, Sherman J, Martinello RA. Performance analysis of portable HEPA filters and temporary plastic anterooms on the spread of surrogate coronavirus. Build Environ 2020;183:107186.
  2. Meraji Khah AM, Beigi Khoozani A. How to protect operating room staff from COVID-19? Perioper Care Oper Room Manag 2020;20:100114.
  3. Wong J, Goh QY, Tan Z, et al. Preparing for a COVID-19 pandemic: A review of operating room outbreak response measures in a large tertiary hospital in Singapore. Can J Anaesth 2020;67:732-745.