The highest standards of cleanliness are of critical importance in operating theatres, to ensure the safety of both patients and medical staff. There are stringent rules for operating theatre verification laid down by HTM 03-01, a memorandum which covers the performance of critical ventilation systems. Tecomak Environmental Services engineers give a comprehensive service to ensure that surgical suites and their ventilation systems are fully compliant with all regulations.
Safety Requirements for Operating Theatres
There are a number of risks of contamination which need to be guarded against constantly in operating theatres. The operations themselves obviously carry a risk of contaminating equipment used and the surrounding area, through the tissues and blood products and other biological particles which are involved.
In addition to this, there are also potential risks from staff shedding fragments of skin and hair or other particles, while their clothing can present another source of contamination. There is also a risk of airborne particles and bacteria entering from surrounding areas, via the air supply.
Any of these types of contaminant can be dangerous to patients, meaning a greater likelihood of infections and superbugs following on from surgery, when their immune system is lowered. Bacterial contamination can also pose a risk to the health of theatre staff.
To guard against all these sources of biological contamination, there are a number of key requirements included in the HTM 03-01 validation standard.
Air flow and air pressure are covered by several specifications. These include the need to ensure that the air flows correctly, from clean to less clean areas so that it takes contamination away rather than introducing it into the area.
Hospitals also need to make sure the room’s fabric is free of visible faults which are regarded as “significant” and that all doors to the surgical suite shut properly.
All these requirements need to be borne in mind throughout the process of designing and fitting out an operating theatre. In particular, ventilation systems need to be correctly designed and fitted, so that the air flow follows the correct direction, and it must be ensured that no equipment is wrongly sited, blocking the air path.
What an Inspection Covers
Under HTM03-01, operating theatre verification requires a full annual inspection, but some facilities may need to be verified with greater frequency. Inspections are audited by the Care Quality Commission.
As well as verification, smaller inspections also need to be carried out at least every three months, and these can usually be carried out by the hospital’s own maintenance team.
A verification visit by Tecomak engineers involves critical ventilation inspection, ensuring that the whole system is working properly, including its filters, and that it is fully fit for purpose and continuing to meet the required standards.
During our visit, we will look at any possible problems with the design of the ventilation system and the area, such as inadequate air flow or extraction grilles being wrongly positioned. We will also examine any difficulties with the way in which the system is being used, such as a build-up of dust or water in equipment or a filter not fitting correctly, so that air can get around it.
Our engineers carry out a range of tests during the operating theatre inspection, including taking detailed measurements of air volumes and air change rates, as well as measuring the room pressure differential. We also check the level of cleanness of equipment such as pressure stabilisers. For bio decontamination of operating theatres and other critical care areas in hospitals, as well as cleanrooms, we use iHP® (ionised Hydrogen Peroxide), a highly advanced and quick method of destroying harmful bacteria which is non-toxic and will not damage equipment.
Tecomak’s Operating Theatre Expertise
One of the main reasons to choose Tecomak as a contractor for NHS and private hospitals is our high level of experience. We have been operating for many years and pride ourselves on giving a first-class service to the health sector.
All our engineers receive NHS approved training and are also approved by the HSE to test ventilation systems, as well as having a number of other professional qualifications. They constantly undergo training to keep their qualifications up-to date. Because they combine mechanical and electrical expertise, our engineers can repair faults they identify instead of having to call in other contractors.
After a surgical suite is inspected, we issue professional reports which are archived for 5 years. These fully explain any action which needs to be taken and so are very helpful to operating theatre teams.
Another advantage of choosing Tecomak as your operating theatre testing contractor is that we combine maintenance with inspection. This keeps down costs and reduces downtime, which are both vital considerations for operating theatres, since if they are out of action for any length of time it means operations may have to be cancelled and adds to waiting lists. Click here to contact Tecomak and for further details of our HTM compliance services.