The importance of proper patient positioning in the operating room cannot be understated. Proper positioning allows the patient to maintain proper circulation, it prevents patient
nerve damage, it provides adequate exposure to the operative site,
and it provides comfort to the patient. Two industry experts recently
weighed in on how best practices and the right products can ensure
patient and staff safety success with regards to positioning.
SP: What are the most important characteristics
of surgical tables and positioning accessories
that allow for both patients and staff to stay safe
before/during/after procedures in the OR?
Earl Cole, Vice President, Innovative Medical Products: Our product
development method always starts with the needs of the patient and the surgical team, how to provide accuracy for the surgeon; improve efficiency, increase
safety and save time for OR personnel; and benefit the overall patient surgical
experience by designing products for consistent patient stability. We get input
by listening to medical device manufacturers, surgeons, nurses, and
other parties directly involved in the latest advancements in orthopedic medicine. This constant research and dialogue enables us to produce the highest
quality positioning products on the market.
We followed this methodology, for instance, when integrating and
adapting our positioning devices to OR tables. We wanted to make it as
easy, time-saving, and safe as possible for OR personnel to attach our
positioners to most any operating table. Working with table manufacturers and practitioners, we were able to make updates and modifications
that ensured our positioners would be securely fixed to the table yet
could be quickly set up and disassembled, alleviating the stresses and
strains on OR staff.
With regards to our knee and hip positioners, we follow the same
development methodology to ensure the solutions we provide are responsive to user needs. From our experience, the best type of patient positioning accessory in joint replacement surgery is one that securely stabilizes
the patient without relying on an OR staff member. When the patient
is firmly stabilized by the positioning device itself, the surgeon benefits
because there’s less chance for patient movement and thus less chance for
implant error, the OR staff benefits because physical stress and the chance
for a work-related injury is reduced, and the patient benefits because the
surgical outcome is significantly enhanced.
A patient positioning accessory that’s not dependent on human exer-
tion can also add value to OR efficiency, if not benefit the healthcare insti-
tution as whole, by freeing up an OR staff member for other tasks such as
holding retractors. We like to say that our positioners provide the surgical
team an “extra pair of hands.” In addition, our positioners can reduce
operating time because the patient doesn’t have to be constantly realigned
during knee surgery, for example. This is more likely to happen when an
OR staff member has to hold the patient’s leg throughout the entire surgi-
cal procedure increasing chances for patient movement. With our device,
the surgical site always will be clearly visible and consistently stable in the
right orientation, even with especially large patients.
With regard to a patient positioner’s interface with an operating table,
the key characteristics are ease-of-use and adaptability. Our hip and
knee positioners have been designed to be easily adaptable to most any
operating tables. This means our lightweight positioners can be securely
attached to the majority of OR tables, which is important for OR personnel. When OR staff can easily set up a positioner on an operating table
and remove it, this not only saves time but reduces stress on OR staff providing still another significant safety benefit.
SP: What are the most important things for OR
staff to be mindful of when moving or positioning a
patient for surgery?
Rochelle Froloff, R.N., Medical Sales Specialist, Medical Products Group,
Action Products Inc.: The most important thing is when OR staff are first
positioning a patient and the patient is going off the gurney, you need to have
enough staff to move that patient. That’s where injuries develop, even more
for the staff than anyone else. If you are going to be moving the patient, it’s
so important to have a person to receive the patient in addition to the person
who is starting the process. It’s not enough to have enough staff to move the
patient, they need to be able to (do so) properly. The same can be said for if
the patient needs to be turned. You have to be cognizant of anesthesia.
SP: Where do you feel the majority of hospitals
fall short in protecting themselves against these
issues? Do you feel it is right at the beginning of
the process with just not having enough staff on
Froloff: Yes. With hospitals being short-staffed around the country, they just
try to get by. That’s not the way to go. I think that’s the biggest factor.
SP: Can you assess where most hospitals are at
with being able to train employees when they come
to work at a particular facility and use different
Froloff: Every operating room should have a perioperative educator. Not
every facility realizes this, and that can be a significant problem because there