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Cloth Scrub Caps Beat Disposable For Airborne Contamination

Medicus Scrub Caps

This is from an article in Science Daily back in 2017 where controlled tests from disposable and cloth skull caps where tested in a mock operation for 1 hour.

"Unlike most tests for environmental quality, which Dr. Markel said are typically done in a static laboratory, their airborne contamination testing was performed in an actual OR under changing conditions. For each style of hat the OR team wore, they performed a one-hour mock operation, which included gowning and gloving, passing surgical instruments, leaving and reentering the OR, and performing electrocautery on a piece of raw steak to generate particles that were discharged into the air. Each hat style underwent testing four times, twice at each of two different hospitals. Both ORs had high-efficiency air-cleansing ventilation systems, according to the researchers."

Step Towards Progress

Many previous articles have discredited cloth scrub caps and hats for the fact that they aren't fully covering all hair on surgeons heads sometimes. Also if these aren't washed everyday.

No other piece of clothing has as much scrutiny as the scrub cap even though you could argue the hospital ID Badges doctors carry around all the time from outside to inside the OR are even more susceptible to contamination.

The fact the airborne contamination is so low is a big win for the simple fact that unless you can't trust surgeons to wash each cap after use but allow them to waste resources on a disposable product.

"I expect our findings may be used to inform surgical headgear policy in the United States," he said. "Based on these experiments, surgeons should be allowed to wear either a bouffant hat or a skullcap, although cloth skull caps are the thickest and have the lowest permeability of the three types we tested."

Although Dr. Markel said that reusable skullcaps are "probably best" for minimizing airborne contamination in the OR, their disadvantage is the need to wash them. "Most hospitals don't have facilities to launder them, and surgeons may not launder their skullcaps every day," he said. "There needs to be a way to guarantee that reusable skullcaps are clean."

But let us know what you think below.

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1 comment

  • L M Haydon: November 12, 2019

    Have tests for contamination on the caps been carried out after 4 to 5 hour laparoscopic procedures on genuine surgeries……were instruments are constantly entering and exiting trocars….which are inserted into cavities that are inflated with surgical gas?

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