Each year, the medical liability system in the United States costs $55.6 billion. More than 3 percent relates to plastic surgery where surgeons have a 15 percent risk of being sued every year. The costliest item is infections, but now novel air-handling techniques open up for safer operating rooms that protect both staff and patients.
As shown in a recent article, plastic surgeons run a high risk of being sued and the costliest litigations involve infections. While certain measures may limit the financial risk of litigation, such as ensuring a clear dialogue with the patient regarding medical risks and proper documentation in medical records, it seems a better choice from all points of view to invest in avoiding the infections altogether.
When it comes to plastic surgery, and especially infection sensitive procedures using implants, it is most important to have an ultra-clean environment. While hand hygiene and room disinfection have had center stage in infection prevention for decades, there is still no decrease in the deadliest and most costly complication, the Surgical Site Infection, according to the CDC. What are we missing?
A clue comes in the wake of the ongoing pandemic as we are becoming increasingly aware of the airborne pathway to infections. While COVID-19 does not seem to have its main pathway via the air, many other infections do. And during surgery, it has been shown from wound washouts that the majority of bacteria can be traced back to the skin of the staff and the airborne pathway (Lidwell). Why has this been ignored by so many for so long?
In order to minimize airborne contamination, what is needed is a robust ventilation system that keeps the bacteria levels low during ongoing surgery. At Avidicare, we have developed the Opragon ventilation system for exactly this purpose. As strange as it sounds, it is actually the only OR ventilation system that has been developed for ORs and that is robust enough to handle all movement and dynamics without demand for uncomfortable space suites. And it protects the whole room, not just the middle as LAF ceilings do. It furthermore provides excellent comfort, as proven by research.
If you are worried about infections and want to provide the best care with the lowest risk of infections to both staff and patients, then you will need look at your ventilation. It will improve the outcomes of your surgery, while making the risk of litigation much less. Isn’t that what your next investment should be aimed at?