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Surgical hand scrub: lots of water wasted.
Department of Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria. Ann Afr Med. 2007 Mar;6(1):31-3.
BACKGROUND: Surgical hand scrub (SHS) is an important antisepsis measure before participating in surgical operation. It reduces the risk of microbial contamination of the surgical wound by skin flora. SHS is usually performed in a scrub sink with taps that have hand operated handles. During the scrub process large volume of water is wasted. The aim of this study was to determine the volume of water used during SHS in comparison to the actual volume necessary.
METHOD: Unknown to them various cadre of the operation team were timed during their first scrubbing of the day for scheduled operations. Duration of scrubbing (ST) and that during which the hands were being washed with flowing water (WT) were recorded. The amount of water flowing through the tap per minute was also recorded. Using the mean ST, WT and water flow per minute the total volume of water used during scrubbing and that necessary to wash the hand were calculated. RESULTS: Overall, the ST ranged between 3 and 7 minutes with a mean of 4.8 +/- 0.5 SD minutes. Mean WT was 1.4 +/- 0.4 SD minutes. The mean water flow was 4,217mls per minutes. The volume of water used per scrubbing was 20.2 litres while only 5.9 litres was used for washing the hands. Between January and December 2002, the volume of water used for scrubbing was 200,283 litres while only 58,498.5 litres (29.2%) was necessary.
CONCLUSION: Plenty water is wasted during STIS. Reducing the amount of water flowing unused would provide cost saving to the hospital. The use of taps operated with foot pedal would reduce the waste.
A question came to me regarding scrubbing. After our scrub, after which our hands and forearms are supposedly sterile, the last thing we do before entering the OR is to rinse with water.
The water comes directly out of the tap, which came from the building's water pipes, preceded by the local plumbing and water source.