Grip, not slip, in the digitally integrated OR

A state of the art digitally integrated operating suite at Concord RGH, in Sydney’s Inner West, is serving patients better and making the OH&S demands of theatre less onerous for surgical staff

Concord Repatriation General Hospital is a principal referral facility and a teaching hospital of the University of Sydney. The hospital developed out of the 113th Australian General Hospital, an army hospital set up in 1941 to care for thousands of sick and wounded defence personnel. In 1948 it became the Repatriation General Hospital to provide health services to veterans and war widows, and is much loved by the older generation

In recent decades Concord RGH has become recognised nationally and internationally as a centre of excellence in a comprehensive range of specialty services. Major services provided include colorectal and laparoscopic surgery, gastroenterology, geriatrics and rehabilitation medicine, bone and joint services, cancer services, haematology, respiratory medicine and sleep studies, molecular biology and genetics, and those provided through the internationally acknowledged Statewide Burns Service, in which Concord plays a major part.

Reinforcing its reputation for excellence, in May 2007 Concord RGH opened a state of the art digitally integrated operating suite, specifically for laparoscopic and endoscopic procedures, or minimally invasive surgery. The suit consists of two rooms, plus a computer data recording unit.

Sally Comerford, Laparoscopic Coordinator of the operating suite, said the digital equipment enabled the recording of still images and movies of the procedure being performed via the high definition cameras in the laparoscopes and endoscopes. An ultra high definition screen over the operating table lets the surgeon see incredibly clear details of the area being operated on, while other staff can view from plasma screens further back in the room or in an adjoining room, or images can be sent by videoconferencing to surgeons anywhere in the country.

Minimally invasive surgery using laparoscopes or endoscopes is becoming more commonplace, Ms Comerford said. Many surgical conditions are now treated laparoscopically first, and in many cases, major surgery is not required. Because the procedure requires only one or two small incisions rather than a large opening, the patient has less post-operative pain, and recovers faster.

As well as patient safety and comfort, the new digitally integrated suite has improved occupational health and safety conditions for medical staff as well. All the movable equipment hangs from pendants which can be turned 180 degrees in any direction, and can be adjusted by a simple handle. The surgeons can set the height and angle of the large high definition screen to best advantage, and there is no heavy pushing of equipment trolleys or wheeled pieces of equipment from one operating room to another. The equipment stays in the operating suite the whole time. “Much better for our backs – there are no back injuries,” she said.

No wheeled equipment means less wear and tear on the floor, but the flooring still needs to be durable to cope with up to 12 procedures a day, with mopping between each procedure.

The floor requirements were: easily cleaned, non-slip, durable, not easily damaged, cushioned, and not need polishing, according to the Nurse Unit Manager Chris (Don’t Have His Name!)

The operating theatre floor is covered with Polyflor Prestige PUR – a sophisticated, high performance, heavy-duty homogeneous vinyl flooring, which is easy to clean and requires no polishing.

The colour chosen is Alabaster – a crisp off-white with flecks of grey and fawn. The flooring extends 50 cm up the wall and is welded for good infection control.

Polyflor Australia NSW State Manager, Jeremy Naug, said Prestige is “the most advanced commercial flooring in the Southern Hemisphere.

“It has substantial antistatic properties, which makes it the most appropriate product for an area like a digitally integrated operating suite which has sensitive medical equipment.”

He said Prestige’s antistatic properties also made it ideal for climate controlled areas such as laboratories, where low air humidity contributes to high levels of static electricity.

Alabaster was chosen as a crisp, clean colour, providing a good background for the blue lighting used in the operating theatre to enhance visibility.

In the scrub area a different product was chosen to go under the wash troughs and up the walls, as this is an area that is always wet. Polyflor’s Corona safety flooring was installed in two flecked colourways – Barley, a warm fawn-grey for the floor, and Seal, a bluer grey for the wall.

Corona was chosen for its superior non-slip qualities. Not only that, Mr Naug said, Corona demonstrated “cost savings of 60 per cent over traditional safety floorings.”

The secret is in the quartz crystals, aluminium oxide and silicon carbide particles incorporated with polymers throughout the full thickness of the vinyl to improve traction and safety underfoot.

Many other slip resistant products become less effective as they age, so that while initially having a safety rating of R10, within a few years they do not provide such good traction.

In contrast, as Corona wears, it actually gets more slip resistant than less, he said, because while the PVC wears away with use and cleaning, more of the grit is exposed.

“We offer a sustainability of performance warranty, that Corona will maintain it’s R10 rating for the life of the floor,” , Mr Naug said.

Like Prestige, Corona should not be polished. Both floors are easy to clean and save time and money on maintenance.

Sally Comerford summed it up beautifully. “The floors serve their purpose. They do what is required.”

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