The Association of Surgical Technologies (AST) develops standard practices that are used in healthcare facilities. These standard practices are used in the implementation of procedures and policies for the use of surgical drapes. The main reason as to why surgical drapes are used is to ensure that the surgical site is separated and isolated from other areas of the patient’s body. This is very important in that it also prevents Surgical Site Infection (SSI) where the drapes serves as a barrier to any external sources of infection. Draping is therefore very important and the standard procedures that are involved are done on a routine basis. The standards of practice takes care of the choice of drapes, drape characteristics and the general draping guidelines. They are as follows:
1. Only sterile drapes should be used within the sterile field.
Drapes create a barrier between the surgical field and possible areas of infection. Any contamination from non-sterile areas to sterile areas is minimized since the sterile drapes will create a sterile field once used.
2. A compromise in the integrity of the microbial barrier results in contamination.
Drapes should always be free from holes, punctures and tears in order to prevent any contamination to the sterile field.
3. Drapes should be resistant to fluid penetration.
Drapes should always be fluid resistant and impervious such that strike through contamination can be minimized hence reducing the risk of SSI.
4. Drapes should be lint free
Airborne contamination is possible if there is lint on the drapes. Hence drapes should be lint free to prevent SSI.
5. Drapes should be flame resistant.
Drapes should not be flammable through ignition via lasers or fiber optics in the operating room.
6. The surgical team should take the proper precautions in the application of drapes when the surgical procedure calls for the use of a laser.
Most drapes are not 100% resistant to impact of the laser beams hence the surgical team should take precautions such as outlining the surgical site with wet towels as a precautionary measure.
7. Surgical team members should be involved in the selection process of drapes to be used in the operating room.
When the surgical team members are involved in the selection process, they can easily identify with the standards set forth because they are the ones that handle the drapes in the operating room.
These standards and procedures are generally meant to guide the surgical team in how the drapes should be used and how to protect the patients from SSI.