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During the course of many surgical procedures, especially after urologic and gynecologic operations, blood and other body fluids from the patient contaminate the boots of surgeons and other surgical personnel (Fig 1). Our contention is that in most operating rooms in the United Kingdom there is no recognized satisfactory arrangement for cleaning these boots.
Many surgeons and other surgical staff resort to cleaning the boots themselves, whereas the vast majority resign themselves to the fact that they are only occasionally cleaned by custodial staff. With the recent awareness that many viruses—HIV and hepatitis B and C viruses in particular—can survive in dry blood for up to 5 weeks and possibly longer,1 the process of cleaning boots by operating room and custodial staff without adequate precautions could well present potential risk of transmission to the personnel involved. The aim of this article is to highlight these risks and to consider a possible solution.


In this study, operating room boots were examined for the presence of blood on their upper surface by visual inspection; the presence or absence of blood was confirmed by a specific biochemical test. To investigate the degree of microbial contamination of boots, swabs were taken from the upper surface and sole and were cultured for bacteria. Cell cultures were not inoculated for the detection of viruses.
We examined 54 pairs of boots used in the main operating rooms of our district general hospital…. read complete PDF

Contaminated operating room boots The potential for infection