Precautions for Operating Room Team Members During the COVID-19 Pandemic

J Am Coll Surg. 2020 Jun;230(6):1098-1101. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2020.03.030. Epub 2020 Apr 2.


Background: The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) can infect healthcare workers. We developed an institutional algorithm to protect operating room team members during the COVID-19 pandemic and rationally conserve personal protective equipment (PPE).

Study design: An interventional platform (operating room, interventional suite, and endoscopy) PPE taskforce was convened by the hospital and medical school leadership and tasked with developing a common algorithm for PPE use, to be used throughout the interventional platform. In conjunction with our infectious disease experts, we developed our guidelines based on potential patterns of spread, risk of exposure, and conservation of PPE.

Results: A decision tree algorithm describing our institutional guidelines for precautions for operating room team members was created. This algorithm is based on urgency of operation, anticipated viral burden at the surgical site, opportunity for a procedure to aerosolize virus, and likelihood a patient could be infected based on symptoms and testing.

Conclusions: Despite COVID-19 being a new threat, we have shown that by developing an easy-to-follow decision tree algorithm for the interventional platform teams, we can ensure optimal health care worker safety.

MeSH terms

  • Advisory Committees
  • Algorithms
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Decision Trees
  • Humans
  • Infection Control / methods*
  • Operating Rooms / organization & administration*
  • Pandemics
  • Personal Protective Equipment / supply & distribution
  • Personnel, Hospital
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Surgery Department, Hospital / organization & administration*