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Safe temperature and humidity

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Good morning! I am looking for information on safe temperature and humidity ratings in the OR. I live in south Texas and just like most of the country right now it is very hot. Last night, right before I was to take back a patient for an orbital/maxillary fracture, our chillers went out. My surgeon was informed of the situation and the patient was in the room (I took the pt back before anyone knew exactly what had happened). Within 15 minutes the floors and cabinets in my room were sweating. We completed the surgery with a temperature of 73 and humidity level of 66%. It seemed like no one I was working with last night knew what the standard was for safe temperature and humidity levels. I don't want to be clueless on this topic again. Thanks in advance for any information about this subject. 

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Rose_Queen has 15 years experience as a BSN, MSN, RN and specializes in OR, education.

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AORN Guidelines actually do list the appropriate temperature and humidity in the Design and Maintenance guideline. Within the OR, temperatures should be maintained between 68 and 75 degrees and humidity should be maintained between 20% and 60%. If there was visible condensation, I would definitely be concerned about sterile item packaging being compromised. Was your maintenance team and infection control notified? If we have an OR out of recommended ranges with a patient in the OR for over an hour, we notify them and IC will follow the patient. Those cases where we intentionally increase temperatures (we can go as high as 80 degrees on a trauma patient)are excluded from that. I would also suggest your facility make a copy of the AORN guidelines available to staff as well. 

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21 Posts; 1,523 Profile Views

Thank you for your response Rose_Queen. My charge did notify our maintenance department as soon as I brought up the change in temperature and humidity. I am not sure if IC was informed. I did fill out a variance report once we were finished. Unfortunately,  the rest of the evening was spent monitoring temperature and humidity. Our floors were completely wet and by the end of my shift sterile items contained moisture. Needless to say many instruments had to be sent back for processing and sterilization. Next month will mark my one year anniversary in the OR. I love it but feel clueless at times. Thank you for creating this forum!

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