Measurement of foot traffic in the operating room: implications for infection control

Am J Med Qual. Jan-Feb 2009;24(1):45-52. doi: 10.1177/1062860608326419.


Surgical site infections cause significant morbidity and mortality in the postoperative period. Opening of the operating room door disrupts its filtered atmosphere, increasing contamination above the wound. We conducted a study of traffic in the operating room as a risk for infections. This is an observational study of recorded behaviors in the operating room. Data collected included number of people entering/exiting, the role of these individuals, and the cause for the event. A total of 3071 door openings were recorded in 28 cases. Traffic varied from 19 to 50 events per hour across specialties. The preincision period represented 30% to 50% of all events. Information requests accounted for the majority of events. Door openings increase in direct proportion to case length, but have an exponential relationship with the number of persons in the operating room. There is a high rate of traffic across all specialties, compromising the sterile environment of the operating room.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Michigan
  • Operating Rooms / organization & administration*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Surgical Wound Infection / prevention & control*