The Case for Using Evidence-Based Guidelines in Setting Hospital and Public Health Policy

Ross H. Francis, Jordan A. Mudery, Phi Tran, Carol Howe, Abraham Jacob

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Objective: Hospital systems and regulating agencies enforce strict guidelines barring personal items from entering the operating room (OR) – touting surgical site infections (SSIs) and patient safety as the rationale. We sought to determine whether or not evidence supporting this recommendation exists by reviewing available literature. Background data: Rules and guidelines that are not evidence based may lead to increased hospital expenses and limitations on healthcare provider autonomy. Methods: PubMed, Embase, Scopus, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, and CINAHL were searched in order to find articles that correlated personal items in the OR to documented SSIs. Articles that satisfied the following criteria were included: (1) studies looking at personal items in the OR, such as handbags, purses, badges, pagers, backpacks, jewelry phones, and eyeglasses, but not just OR equipment; and (2) the primary outcome measure was infection at the surgical site. Results: Seventeen articles met inclusion criteria and were evaluated. Of the 17, the majority did not determine if personal items increased risk for SSIs. Only one article examined the correlation between a personal item near the operative site and SSI, concluding that wedding rings worn in the OR had no impact on SSIs. Most studies examined colonization rates on personal items as potential infection risk; however, no personal items were causally linked to SSI in any of these studies. Conclusion: There is no objective evidence to suggest that personal items in the OR increase risk for SSIs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalFrontiers in Surgery
StatePublished - Mar 29 2016


  • evidence-based medicine
  • operating room
  • personal items
  • public health policy
  • surgical site infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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