Document Type



Educational Leadership

First Advisor's Name

Tonette Rocco

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Kathleen Blais

Third Advisor's Name

Adrianna McEachern

Fourth Advisor's Name

Thomas Reio


Surgical Teams, Bloodborne Pathogens, Personal Protective Equipment

Date of Defense



Exposure to certain bloodborne pathogens can prematurely end a person’s life. Healthcare workers (HCWs), especially those who are members of surgical teams, are at increased risk of exposure to these pathogens. The proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE) during operative/invasive procedures reduces that risk. Despite this, some HCWs fail to consistently use PPE as required by federal regulation, accrediting agencies, hospital policy, and professional association standards. The purpose of this mixed methods survey study was to (a) examine factors surgical team members perceive influence choices of wearing or not wearing PPE during operative/invasive procedures and (b) determine what would influence consistent use of PPE by surgical team members. Using an ex post facto, non-experimental design, the memberships of five professional associations whose members comprise surgical teams were invited to complete a mixed methods survey study. The primary research question for the study was: What differences (perceptual and demographic) exist between surgical team members that influence their choices of wearing or not wearing PPE during operative/invasive procedures? Four principal differences were found between surgical team members. Functional (i.e., profession or role based) differences exist between the groups. Age and experience (i.e., time in profession) differences exist among members of the groups. Finally, being a nurse anesthetist influences the use of risk assessment to determine the level of PPE to use. Four common themes emerged across all groups informing the two study purposes. Those themes were: availability, education, leadership, and performance. Subsidiary research questions examined the influence of previous accidental exposure to blood or body fluids, federal regulations, hospital policy and procedure, leaders’ attitudes, and patients’ needs on the use of PPE. Each of these was found to strongly influence surgical team members and their use of PPE during operative/invasive procedures. Implications based on the findings affect organizational policy, purchasing and distribution decisions, curriculum design and instruction, leader behavior, and finally partnership with PPE manufacturers. Surgical team members must balance their innate need to care for patients with their need to protect themselves. Results of this study will help team members, leaders, and educators achieve this balance.





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