Surgical Head Coverings: A Literature Review
Microorganisms that cause surgical site infections may either be present on the patient's skin or mucous membranes or transmitted to the patient by health care personnel, the environment, or other items in the perioperative setting. This literature review analyzes the evidence used to support the recommendation that perioperative personnel should cover their heads, hair, and ears in the semirestricted and restricted areas. A literature search produced 27 articles related to bacterial shedding from skin and hair, pathogenic organisms present on the hair and ears, and case reports of infectious organisms passed from health care providers to patients. Although there is no conclusive evidence that wearing a head covering can help prevent surgical site infections, the potential benefits to patients when compared with the risks suggest that perioperative team members should cover their heads, hair, and ears in the semirestricted and restricted areas to provide the best possible protection for surgical patients.