Draping is mainly done to protect the surgical site from contamination coming from non sterile areas of the patient’s body, the surgical team members or the environment (airborne contamination). Contamination can cause surgical site infection (SSI) but the risk is greatly reduced when a surgical drape is used to isolate the incision site. When selecting the right surgical drapes, one must be ascertained that the drapes will not help to contaminate the surgical site. This is why a lot of consideration has to be placed on the quality and features of the drapes used in surgery. There are certain standards of practice which have been set aside to reduce contamination.
To start with, surgical drapes must always be in perfect condition before use. They should never have any punctures, holes or tears. In fact, they must be resistant to such damages so that microbial contamination is completely prevented.
When you are buying a surgical drape, make sure it is resistant to fluid penetration. This is a requirement which all manufacturers must meet. Any body fluid like blood must be suctioned immediately or sponged from the drape so as to prevent contamination.
Many manufacturers today are also making their drapes fire resistant. For instance, if the procedure involves the use of fiber optics or lasers, it is important for the surgical drape to be fires resistant. This is also a requirement in electro-surgeries.
There are also certain general features which can be used to evaluate the quality of surgical drapes. To start with, the material the drapes are made of should be easy and flexible to handle. The material must also be free from toxic substances like dyes and laundry detergents. This is especially the case if the drapes are made from woven material.
Most health facilities use reusable drapes. However, to reduce the risks caused by improper contamination or due to reusing of such surgical products, proper inspection must be conducted prior to sterilization. You should look out for any holes or stretch areas of fabric. In case there are patches then draping material of the same type can be applied on that patch as a way of repairing the surgical drape. However, the patches must only be applied through heat sealing and never stitching.
The surgical team members must also ensure that the sterile field is completely free from infection. The drape must be impervious to liquid. This prevents fluid from reaching the critical region or the operation site. If they have an adhesion then it should not be sensitive to the skin. It should also be repositionable once it is removed.
When looking for surgical drapes, ensure you buy them from manufacturers who are strict on meeting all industry standards. Low quality drapes might end up risking the life of patients and the surgical team members. It is best to always consider quality first. This way, you will protect your patients and colleagues. At the end of the day, the standards are set so that the risk of contamination of the sterile field is minimized considerably.