Control of the Environment in the Operating Room
There is a direct relationship between the quality of the environment of a workplace and the productivity and efficiency of the work accomplished. Components such as temperature, humidity, ventilation, drafts, lighting, and noise each contribute to the quality of the overall environment and the sense of well-being of those who work there.
The modern operating room is a unique workplace with specific, and frequently conflicting, environmental requirements for each of the inhabitants. Even minor disturbances in the internal environment of the operating room can have serious ramifications on the comfort, effectiveness, and safety of each of the inhabitants. A cool, well-ventilated, and dry climate is optimal for many members of the surgical team. Any significant deviation from these objectives raises the risk of decreased efficiency and productivity and adverse surgical outcomes. A warmer, more humid, and quieter environment is necessary for the patient. If these requirements are not met, the risk of surgical morbidity and mortality is increased. An important task for the surgical team is to find the correct balance between these 2 opposed requirements. Several of the components of the operating room environment, especially room temperature and airflow patterns, are easily manipulated by the members of the surgical team. In the following discussion, we will examine these elements to better understand the clinical ramifications of adjustments and accommodations that are frequently made to meet the requirements of both the surgical staff and the patient.