Operating Room Rules

Specialties Operating Room


Hi everyone. I have had a few different people tell me that Registered Nurses in the operating room are allowed to wear fake nails and also only circulate. Is this true? I know some hospitals have lpns or scrub techs but would the Rn really never scrub?? Also are you allowed to wear your own cloth hats?

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

Going to vary facility to facility. In mine, no fake nails, no cloth hats. Very few RNs scrub as we rely heavily on surgical technologists for that role.

Specializes in Surgery.

My hospital facility states "no chipped nail polish"...which cracks me up because when do you know your nail polish is going to chip?

Definitely a no no for anyone who is scrubbing, and as a newer RN in the OR (6 1/2 years) straight out of nursing school, I have been struggling/fighting to learn to scrub in my facility, but I have been informed by our new management team that "this is NOT a teaching hospital - so I will not be given the opportunity to learn to scrub" so, sadly, I think the newer incarnations of OR Circulator RNs are not going to be scrubbing cases, so maybe rules like this will be a little less strict?

I've worked in a few different Hospital systems. We were never allowed fake nails but could have polish if not chipped. Of course how strictly this is enforced highly varies.

Right now most places in my area allow cloth hats if covered by a disposable bouffant. But I think that we may see them uncovered again soon.

As far as scrubbing- I've seen both. I spent most of my career in a system that used only scrub techs. Where I am now, they use mostly STs but all RNs learn to scrub too. It's a mix in my area as far as I know. Depends on the facility.

SO, I'm at a teaching facility. We scrub, so no nail polish and definitely no fakes of any kind, including gel, etc..ANd nails are expected to be kept short and in neat order. We can wear the cloth hat but we have to cover with the bouffant style cover. We have no more skull caps. Surgeons none to happy about that. I think it's kinda silly myself. I wore the bouffant under the skull cap to hold and cover my hair completely. It worked great. If you just wear the bouffant provided without your own underneath, it doesn't stay put very well. Always having to remind female docs to pull it forward. It does have a tendency to slide back exposing a lot of hair.

Specializes in Surgery.

AORN Guidelines state no artificial nails and nails should be trimmed to no more than 0.5 cm in length. AORN 2018 Guidelines

Specializes in Peri-Op.

I travel as an OR RN and have worked in quite a few different facilities in different parts of the country.

RNs do scrub in many ORs. I scrub and circulate regularly. The more rural, south and east you go, the less you have rns scrubbing though. Its more economical to use techs.

No fake nails for scrubbing. Some hospitals do have policies that are more lax but it just doesnt or should not jive with OR standards.

Cloth hats are typically allowed with a disposable hat over it. Even disposable Scull caps have gotten a bad rap for no good reason. I think the aorn recommendation will be rescinded as a couple actual studies were done by surgeons that showed zero issue with them vs bouffant style.

We are taught to scrub at the end of orientation as my hospital is a teaching one. But we rely solely on surgical techs to scrub unless the surgeon brings a first assist with him to a case. We can wear cloth hats if they are laundered every day, but no one does. They were bouffants over their cloth hats.

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