Designing a Safer, More Efficient Operating Room

Surgery

The operating room of a health care facility is a place where miracles happen every day. Cancer is eradicated, life-saving organ transplants are performed and joint replacements that restore the activities of daily life are completed. Yet, sometimes operating rooms can be places of danger if proper safety protocols are not instituted for both patients and health care workers.

Health care workers in an operating room setting are regularly exposed to hazards such as surgical smoke plume and needle sticks. The World Health Organization recommends the implementation of safety protocols designed to eradicate and manage these safety hazards. Health care organizations have also instituted the surgery checklist to foster improvements in both patient and worker safety.

Technological advances hold the key to continued safety and efficiency improvements in the surgical setting. Enhancements in surgical equipment and procedural processes due to technology have changed the way health care is delivered. Here are a few of the advances that are contributing to a safer, more efficient operating room setting.

How Technological Advances Promote Safe, Effective Operating Rooms

Robotic surgery allows doctors to perform surgical procedures with stealth-like precision using a robot system such as the da Vinci. This type of surgery can be used to treat a number of conditions. The precision of the procedure promotes improved outcomes for patients and allows surgeons to improve their surgery practice.

Similarly, telesurgery also uses robotic instrumentation to perform surgeries from locations that are remote to the patient. This type of surgery permits surgeries for individuals that may not have been possible due to geographic location. This telemedicine movement uses technology to deliver medicine from one location to another in a manner that was not conceivable before technology.

3-D modeling is another form of technology used to improve surgical outcomes for patients and providers. MRI or CT images can be used to create a model of certain parts of the body. Surgeons can use these models to analyze the patient prior to surgery and improve their surgical techniques used to treat these patients. This technology offers a view of the body not available to surgeons prior to 3-D modeling and gives them a chance to “practice” before particularly difficult or delicate procedures, such as brain surgery.

From modeling to instrumentation, surgical instruments such as the intelligent scalpel are now used to identify cancerous tissue during surgery. These instruments are employed in order to reduce uncertainty during surgery and improve the accuracy of the procedure. To protect the surgeon, patient, and other OR workers from breathing in dangerous chemicals and biohazardous materials during the procedure, surgical smoke evacuators remove the smoke plume from the area.

Incisionless surgery is another technological advance that can be used to treat patients. A number of different conditions can be treated using incisionless surgery including gallbladder surgery, acid reflux and weight loss surgery. No scarring and no surgery incision is an exciting option for patients.

No one approach, however, can be applied to all patients. Developing a variety of technological advances to treat patients in the operating room is best. Some conditions cannot be treated using certain procedures and this multifaceted methodology can enhance safety for a broader audience of patients.

The Operating Room of the Future

Robots won’t be replacing people anytime soon. Humans will always be a part of the operating room equation. Although technology is integral to future operating room advancements, some things, like open communication, teamwork and adoption of new skills and technologies never change. These professional capabilities will be required now and in the future.

As technology continues to advance, the operating room will become a place where robotics, the integration of advanced technology, 3-D modeling and incisionless surgery are commonplace. Procedures will become more precise and localized, resulting in a safer surgery and quicker recovery.