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COVID-19 considerations for operating theatres

The AIRAH Infection Control and Operating Theatre Practices Special Technical Group (STG) has produced a document that looks at the advantages, disadvantages and risks of common COVID-19 practices in operating theatres.

The document provides considerations related to various measures that may be employed in operating rooms to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This includes negative pressure conversion, filter installation on the exhaust air grilles and return air grilles, using 100 per cent fresh air, and UVC installation in ducts for airflow treatment – as well as a number of other strategies that have been employed since the start of the pandemic.

STG Chair Abraham Corona, M.AIRAH, says the document responds to a need to better understand and evaluate these manifold strategies.

“Every hospital should have a pandemic plan,” says Corona. “However, we can select different practices with different possible outcomes.

“Our members are directly and indirectly involved with operating theatre environments. During the beginning and development of the COVID-19 pandemic, we analysed the most common practices that healthcare and HVAC professionals used to react to the various situations they were facing. We are confident that the information in the document is based on the best infection control and engineering expertise available, so we decided to share it with the Australian HVAC and healthcare industries.”

Corona says the document is aimed at any entity or individual dealing with operating theatre environments. This includes, but is not limited to, government, healthcare departments, HVAC engineers, surgeons, hospital engineers, facility managers, nurses, architects, and infection control teams.

The analysis also forms part of a larger project that the STG is undertaking, which Corona believes could be history in the making: a set of guidelines and design characteristics that enable the adoption of best practices for design, construction, commissioning, certification and service of operating theatre environments.

“Unfortunately, Australia lacks a national set of guidelines,” says Corona. “There is a current Australian Standard covering the design basics, and the main healthcare departments have developed independent guidelines, but this has allowed inconsistency between states, and it is still leaving many other areas open to misunderstandings.

“Therefore, the STG was created to develop a national set of HVAC guidelines via a consensus between national stakeholders, always keeping in mind considerations of infection control.”

Corona will be presenting the document in a special session at AIRAH’s Future of HVAC 2021 Conference, to be live-streamed on November 23 and 30. For more information on the event, click here.

To read Operating Theatre COVID-19 common practices: advantages, disadvantages, risks, and comments, click here.

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