A recent change in the rules governing the role of hair coverage has caused a frenzy among all surgical staff. Whereas before, a bouffant cap and a mask were sufficient, now a plethora of mandates have expanded the wardrobe of OR staff. Two hats for thick, curly hair. Finer filtration hats for those with thin hair. Mustaches require wider masks whereas those with no facial hair can wear the narrower masks. A biannual “hair mask fitting” training module helps each surgical staff to maintain proper grooming and proper coverage.
One may think this is a little overwhelming, but many view these changes as empowering. “We can take charge of our coverage now, we could put on beard covers or handlebar covers.” The dozens of different styles are displayed in boxes from floor to ceiling, some which are almost out of reach for people shorter than 5 feet.
A scrub tech of short stature grumbled a little since he could not easily reach the more colorful or designer choices on the top shelf. “Who do they think we are? Mr. Potato heads!?”
Most people are ecstatic. “we are very excited about the new options” said an eager urology intern. “I can now put on a combination of coverings from head to toe. I’m just hoping they come up with patterned colors rather than the boring solids”
A faculty member of general surgery agrees. She says “I had been trying to tell everyone that the wound infections on my patients are not from fecal contents and patient skin flora, but they are from the staff eyebrow hairs that are falling into the patient’s open wounds.”
She adds, “I’ve worked on the design for eyebrow covers. Those are pretty straight forward, but covering eyelashes may be a bit more challenging”
when asked about the added cost of these requirements, the hospital CEO responded. “there is absolutely no way we will compromise patient care for the sake of saving a few bucks.”
As of now, no literature exists supporting the use of these hair coverage to reduce surgical site infections, but leading hospitals are admirably standing up to critics, saying that sometimes we just have to do something and not wait around for evidence to show up.
In fact, “to stay ahead of the curve”, the CEO says, “we are drafting guidelines for hair removal including waxing and lasering. We feel that the chemical hair removal techniques have limitations because they don’t remove the hair follicles at the source.”
More updates to come as other leading hospitals are clamoring to set the standards for hair coverage. Products include sleeves to cover forearm hair as well as earmuffs to cover auricular hair, although the latter project is hitting some design challenges as the earmuffs cause a significant hearing loss of up to 60 decibels, which is quite significant according to ENT experts.