• Waterless Scrub Techniques May Curb Costs

    By Lynda Seminara
    Selected and Reviewed By: Neil M. Bressler, MD, and Deputy Editors

    Journal Highlights

    JAMA Ophthalmology, April 2020

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    Although some health organizations recommend alcohol-based hand scrubbing as presurgical antisepsis, water-based scrub techniques are still common at some hospitals and other surgical facilities. Javitt et al. looked at the potential cost savings of a switch to waterless scrub for a large ophthal­mic surgical center. They found that omitting water from the presurgical hand-sanitation process could save mil­lions of dollars each year for modern health care facilities, while conserving valuable resources.

    For this study, the authors tested the flow rate of industry-standard scrub sinks by running water for the time recommended by the World Health Organization, and the water produced was collected and weighed. This proce­dure was performed three times at each OR scrub sink, and the mean value was calculated. In addition, the authors reviewed cost data. Main outcome measures were the quantity of water used during aqueous scrubbing and the cost differences between alcohol- and water-based scrubs per OR per year.

    The average water consumption was found to be 15.9 L in a two-minute pe­riod. Hence, substituting alcohol-based scrubs could save 61,631 L of water per OR each year, for a yearly savings of $277 in water costs. For each OR, the annual cost of alcohol-based surgical scrub was $1,083 less than that of aque­ous soap applied from wall-mounted dispensers and $271 less than the price of soap-infused scrub brushes. Overall, adopting a waterless scrub technique could save $280,000 to $348,000 annu­ally for each OR.

    The researchers pointed out that the savings in water alone is “eclipsed by savings in supplies as well as staff and facilities resources” and noted that they hope that this study’s findings may improve environmental and financial awareness in health care institutions.

    The original article can be found here.