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Ideas That Work: Innovative Ideas
Cleaning Up the Mess
OSD Staff
Publish Date: December 1, 2015   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work

Surgery is messy business, leaving you, your patients and your surroundings stained, smudged and sticky. Here are some tips that will make it easier to tidy up.

— Compiled by David Bernard

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  • Blood be gone. You can salvage your scrubs from bloodstains with a time-honored laundry room hint. Pour a little hydrogen peroxide on the spot and rub it in: The compound's oxidizing properties will do the heavy lifting. Keep in mind, though, that the sooner you act, the better the results. To easily remove dried blood off of skin, on the other hand, try water-based lubricant and a damp cloth. It works a lot faster than soap and water, and without the friction of scrubbing.
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  • Skin prep solution. Once painted on patients' skin, DuraPrep — the iodine povacrylex skin antiseptic — stays on for days, standing up to rinsing and scrubbing with water or saline. A dab of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, though, wipes it right away without irritation or damage to elderly or sensitive skin.



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  • Getting patients unstuck. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer to ease off adhesive dressings without the ouch of the traditional quick yank. For paper tape, rub some of the gel or foam on top and allow it a few seconds to soak through before peeling. For other kinds, pull up just a corner and rub the sanitizer where the tape is sticking to release the adhesive. (This method has the added benefit of a microbial kill.) Some practitioners argue that you can painlessly remove the Tegaderm that covers the IV site with even less fuss. Just hold the catheter hub stable with your non-dominant hand while stretching the film out (to release the stickiness) and up (to peel it off) with your other hand.
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  • Quicker hair picker-upper. A bit of surgical tape is often used for picking up loose hair after pre-surgical clippings, but a lint roller is easier to hold onto and more convenient to use for keeping patients' skin and linens contaminant-free. Or try this: Slip your fingers into one of those "packing list enclosed" shipping labels (they can be inexpensively obtained at office supply stores) and peel off the backing to make an adhesive glove.
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  • Sticky grounding pads. After you remove a cautery pad from a patient, it can serve you one more use before it goes into the bin. Use it to pick up suture, paper or other debris that's fallen onto the floor — the sticky grounding pads will pick up practically anything; you don't even have to bend over.


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  • When it's time to scour. Don't waste time bringing out the mop and a bucket of disinfectant for small but stubborn floor stains such as dirt, scuff marks, blood or prep. Instead, just moisten an ordinary household scrub sponge (cost: less than a dollar) with your facility's approved cleaning solution, drop it on the floor and work it with your foot. Easy to do and easy to dispose of.
  • Share your great idea for saving time or money at [email protected].

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