Operating Room Team: Sterile Members

Operating Room Team

When a patient is about to undergo a surgical procedure direct patient care will be pass on to the operating room personnel. The operating room (OR) team is responsible for the well-being of a patient throughout the operation. This team should not only consider the patient’s privacy but will also promote safety measures for the patient. One way of promoting safety of patients inside the OR is by preventing infection from the surgical incision that will be done.

As described, the OR team is similar to that of a symphony orchestra. There are many members in an orchestra but they work together in unison and harmony to create a superb outcome.  The operating room (OR) team does the same thing. They coordinate their work with each other to have a successful operation.

Classification of OR team

There are two types of OR team according to the functions of its members.

  • Sterile team members
  1. Surgeon
  2. Assistants to the surgeon
  3. Scrub person (either a registered nurse or surgical technologist)
  • Unsterile team members
  1. Anesthesiologist
  2. Circulator
  3. Biomedical technicians, radiology technicians or other staff that might be needed to set up and operate specialized equipment or devices essential in monitoring the patient during a surgical operation

Operating Room Team: Sterile Personnel

The members of the OR sterile team will do the following things:

  1. Perform surgical hand washing (arms are included).
  2. Don sterile gowns and gloves.
  3. Enter the sterile field.
  4. Handles sterile items only.
  5. Functions only within a limited area (sterile field).
  6. Wear mask.

Operating Surgeon

The surgeon is a licensed physician (MD), osteopath (DO), oral surgeon (DDS or DMD), or podiatrist (DPM). This professional is especially trained and is qualified by knowledge and experience for the performance of a surgical operation.

Responsibilities of a surgeon:

  1. Preoperative diagnosis and care of the patient
  2. Performance of the surgical procedure
  3. Postoperative management of care

Assistants to surgeon

During a surgical procedure, the operating surgeon can have one or two assistants to perform specific tasks under his/her (operating surgeon) direction. The responsibilities of a surgeon’s assistant:

  1. Help maintain the visibility of the surgical site
  2. Control bleeding
  3. Close wounds
  4. Apply dressings
  5. Handles tissues
  6. Uses instruments

Types of Assistants to Surgeon:

  • First Assistants could either be:
  1. A qualified surgeon or resident in an accredited surgical education program. The first assistant should be capable of assuming the operating surgeon’s responsibility in cases of incapacitation or accidents.
  2. Registered Nurse and surgical technologists that have a written hospital policy permitting the action.
  • Second Assistant could be a registered nurse or surgical technologist. These staff should be trained and they mar retract tissues and suction body fluids to help provide exposure of the surgical site.

Scrub Person

A scrub person could be the following:

  • Registered Nurse
  • Surgical technologist
  • Licensed practical/vocational nurse

The responsibility of a scrub person is to maintain the integrity, safety and efficiency of the sterile field throughout the surgical procedure.

image from merckmanuals.com

Daisy Jane Antipuesto RN MN

Currently a Nursing Local Board Examination Reviewer. Subjects handled are Pediatric, Obstetric and Psychiatric Nursing. Previous work experiences include: Clinical instructor/lecturer, clinical coordinator (Level II), caregiver instructor/lecturer, NC2 examination reviewer and staff/clinic nurse. Areas of specialization: Emergency room, Orthopedic Ward and Delivery Room. Also an IELTS passer.

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