Linens and Lint in the Operating Room

Linens and Lint in the Operating Room | by AJ Durtschi

Lint entering surgical wounds can often lead to health complications.

Lint and fibers in the operating room can become trouble when it enters a wound and become an opportunity for surgical site infections and other complications. Invasive surgical procedures can introduce lint and fibers directly into a patient’s bloodstream.

Not only is this a health hazard but surgical site infections, or SSIs are a major financial problem. According to Angie O’Conner, RN, BS, CLLM, and Director of Clinical Resources for the Encompass Group says, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 157,500 in-patient SSIs in 2011. In spite of a 17 percent decrease in 10 selected procedures that were tracked from 2008 to 2014, the issue has become much larger than what the data reveals.

O’Connor says, “In 2013, according to Trendwatch data from the American Hospital Association, it’s shown that 88 percent of all surgical procedures are now conducted on an outpatient basis, and outpatient SSIs are not captured in the CDC figures. The total annual costs associated with the treatment of five of the major healthcare-associated infections (HAI) is estimated to be $9.8 billion, with SSIs accounting for 33.7% of that cost.”

The introduction of lint in surgical wounds results in several complications including:

  • Blood clot formation
  • Inflammation
  • Granuloma formation
  • Adhesions and band formation
  • Poor quality healing of wound
  • Increased incidence of infections

All the result of airborne particles that adhere to the surgical wound!

The data reveals the necessity more than ever for the medical industry to begin taking steps to reducing lint. Lint that according to the Advanced Healthcare Network for Nurses says contains in many cases toxic glues, adhesives and/or fire-resistant agents that may leach into tissues and thereby exacerbate the potentially damaging physiological defense mechanisms initiated by the lint itself.

How can Austin Linen Service help?

Commercial laundries such as Austin Linen Service can provide medical facilities with high quality, low linting textiles to the operating room, procedural areas, and for items used in surgical procedure trays. High quality, low linting linens can reduce the opportunity for contamination of the wound as well as keep the surgical site to a minimal risk of contamination.

Operating rooms and medical personnel and management should be aware of potential sources of lint in order to make informed decisions about what is purchased or allowed in the operating room.

Such linen items that have the greatest potential for contributing to linting are:

  • Blankets
  • Pillowcases
  • Sheets
  • Drapes (cotton blend)
  • Huck towels
  • Mayo stand and table covers
  • Staff uniforms and shoes
  • Unsealed gauze and sponges in reusable packs
  • Terry cloth towels
  • Reusable patient gowns (cotton blend)
  • Instrument tray liners
  • Cleaning rags

Working with a professional linen service like Austin Linen Service can lead to the effort of reducing complications that can result from the use of high-linting or fiber-producing products.

Let’s see how we can help you.