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Positioned for success: when it comes to proper positioning in the OR, common sense rules the day.

The importance of proper patient positioning in the operating room cannot be understated. Proper positioning allows the patient to maintain proper circulation, it prevents patient nerve damage, it provides adequate exposure to the operative site, and it provides comfort to the patient. Two industry experts recently weighed in on how best practices and the right products can ensure patient and staff safety success with regards to positioning.

SP: What are the most important characteristics of surgical tables and positioning accessories that allow for both patients and staff to stay safe before/during/after procedures in the OR?

Earl Cole, Vice President, Innovative Medical Products: Our product development method always starts with the needs of the patient and the surgical team, how to provide accuracy for the surgeon; improve efficiency, increase safety and save time for OR personnel; and benefit the overall patient surgical experience by designing products for consistent patient stability. We get input by listening to medical device manufacturers, surgeons, nurses, and other parties directly involved in the latest advancements in orthopedic medicine. This constant research and dialogue enables us to produce the highest quality positioning products on the market.

We followed this methodology, for instance, when integrating and adapting our positioning devices to OR tables. We wanted to make it as easy, timesaving, and safe as possible for OR personnel to attach our positioners to most any operating table. Working with table manufacturers and practitioners, we were able to make updates and modifications that ensured our positioners would be securely fixed to the table yet could be quickly set up and disassembled, alleviating the stresses and strains on OR staff.

With regards to our knee and hip positioners, we follow the same development methodology to ensure the solutions we provide are responsive to user needs. From our experience, the best type of patient positioning accessory in joint replacement surgery is one that securely stabilizes the patient without relying on an OR staff member. When the patient is firmly stabilized by the positioning device itself, the surgeon benefits because there's less chance for patient movement and thus less chance for implant error, the OR staff benefits because physical stress and the chance for a work-related injury is reduced, and the patient benefits because the surgical outcome is significantly enhanced.

A patient positioning accessory that's not dependent on human exertion can also add value to OR efficiency, if not benefit the healthcare institution as whole, by freeing up an OR staff member for other tasks such as holding retractors. We like to say that our positioners provide the surgical team an "extra pair of hands." In addition, our positioners can reduce operating time because the patient doesn't have to be constantly realigned during knee surgery, for example. This is more likely to happen when an OR staff member has to hold the patient's leg throughout the entire surgical procedure increasing chances for patient movement. With our device, the surgical site always will be clearly visible and consistently stable in the right orientation, even with especially large patients.

With regard to a patient positioner's interface with an operating table, the key characteristics are ease-of-use and adaptability. Our hip and knee positioners have been designed to be easily adaptable to most any operating tables. This means our lightweight positioners can be securely attached to the majority of OR tables, which is important for OR personnel. When OR staff can easily set up a positioner on an operating table and remove it, this not only saves time but reduces stress on OR staff providing still another significant safety benefit.

SP: What are the most important things for OR staff to be mindful of when moving or positioning a patient for surgery?

Rochelle Froloff, R.N., Medical Sales Specialist, Medical Products Group, Action Products Inc.: The most important thing is when OR staff are first positioning a patient and the patient is going off the gurney, you need to have enough staff to move that patient. That's where injuries develop, even more for the staff than anyone else. If you are going to be moving the patient, it's so important to have a person to receive the patient in addition to the person who is starting the process. It's not enough to have enough staff to move the patient, they need to be able to (do so) properly. The same can be said for if the patient needs to be turned. You have to be cognizant of anesthesia.

SP: Where do you feel the majority of hospitals fall short in protecting themselves against these issues? Do you feel it is right at the beginning of the process with just not having enough staff on hand?

Froloff: Yes. With hospitals being short-staffed around the country, they just try to get by. That's not the way to go. I think that's the biggest factor.

SP: Can you assess where most hospitals are at with being able to train employees when they come to work at a particular facility and use different products?

Froloff: Every operating room should have a perioperative educator. Not every facility realizes this, and that can be a significant problem because there is plenty of continuing education out there. However, there's no way to take advantage of that continuing education if a facility doesn't have a liaison to the staff. That's the educator's role. That's the first person I connect with at the hospital because (Action Products) offers some educational programs. I feel that is a service to the hospital.

SP: What is your opinion on the products that are available on the market right now? Whether that's tables, positioners, etc., are they where they need to be in terms of effectiveness to prevent patient and staff injuries?

Froloff: Yes, but it all goes back to the practices in the operating room. They need to be consistent. People need to understand how to use these products properly. This is an ongoing process. It's all about going back to basics and using common sense. It's also about the ability to look at your patient and being able to interview your patient, so that you have an awareness of what the situation presents.
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Title Annotation:FOCUS ON: Tables/Positioning
Publication:Surgical Products
Article Type:Interview
Date:Jan 1, 2014
Words:1028
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