Background: Preoperative skin preparation is performed differently by different operating room nurses.
Aim: To deepen the understanding of skin preparation within an orthopaedic surgical setting from the operating room nurse perspective and to explore their experiences.
Methods: A qualitative exploratory design was used. Four focus group interviews were conducted during 2016-2017, at four hospitals in Sweden, using procedures developed by Krueger and Casey. A total of 19 operating room nurses were recruited through purposive sampling.
Results: Statements were categorized into four categories of experiences: (1) Knowing, which related to learning and sources of knowledge; (2) Doing, which related to skin preparation and activities based on tradition and evidence; (3) The Team, which related to the assignment of responsibility and collaboration with patients and other professions; and (4) The Setting, which related to factors around the patient and included feelings of time pressure and access to supplies.
Conclusions: Theory and practice differ, and some skin preparation used are based on tradition rather than on evidence or recommendations. Elements both within the team in the operating room and within the organization influence the result. Operating room nurses’ duty to perform safe skin preparation must be respected in the team.
Keywords: chlorhexidine; operating room; patient safety; perioperative nursing; surgical site infection.