Operating rooms carry special risks — and, therefore require extraordinary cleaning processes — because many patients carry communicable diseases that can be spread to others. While these diseases are usually not spread in the health care setting, patients who have their immune systems compromised are more susceptible to infections. These environments, therefore, are required to be cleaned and sterilized with an unusual amount of thoroughness.
A scrub technician must be nearby whenever an operation is performed. The scrub tech is responsible for ensuring that all surgical instruments are clean, functioning and present in the operating room. Scrub technicians are also responsible for getting equipment when it is needed. A Mayo Stand is used to hold all of the equipment, and strict procedures are followed regarding who can touch the Mayo Stand and under what conditions. This helps ensure that the stand is not contaminated.
After an operation, a multidisciplinary team must assess any potential contamination issues, so that the cleanup crew will know exactly how to clean up the operating room. The ways in which operating rooms are cleaned is partially based on whether or not the patients have particular spreadable diseases. Special cleaning techniques may need to be used when the patients operated on were infected by antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, for instance.
Airborne particles must be sampled in the operating room on a regular basis to ensure that the ventilation systems are effectively eliminating pathogens. Ventilation systems should not have air leakages or dust overloads.
During instances of severe contamination, those cleaning up the operating room must wear protective equipment such as face masks and rubber gloves to avoid becoming infected.
Many cleaning tasks that are routine in normal environments are critical in hospital environments. Dust that blows out of the operating room can contain pathogens that can infect others. Hair follicles also have the potential to spread diseases, so more thorough and frequent sanitation and surface cleaning is usually required.
Temperature also plays a role in the spread of diseases. Hot and humid operating rooms are more conducive to the growth of harmful microorganisms than cool, dry rooms.
Special cleanup protocols must be established in the event of a serious biological spill. In many cases, those responsible for cleanup must have heavy hazardous material protection to avoid infection.