Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 among Operating Room Staff of a Tertiary Referral Center: An Epidemiologic and Environmental Investigation

April N. McDougal, Dana Elhassani, Mary Ann Demaet, Shirley Shores, Kenneth S. Plante, Jessica A. Plante, Richard Pyles, Scott C. Weaver, Natalie Williams-Bouyer, Brenda J. Tyler, Hollie R. Davis, Janak Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Investigate an outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 among operating room staff utilizing contact tracing, mass testing and environmental sampling. Design: Outbreak investigation. Setting: University affiliated tertiary referral center. Patients: Operating room staff with positive SARS-CoV-2 molecular testing. Methods: Epidemiologic and environmental investigations were conducted including contact tracing, environmental surveys and sampling and review of the operating room schedule for staff-to-staff, staff-to-patient and patient-to-staff SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Results: Twenty-four employees tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Nurses comprised the cohort's majority (29%) followed by surgical technologists (25%) and surgical residents (16%). Nineteen (79%) reported use of a communal area with breakrooms being the most common (75%). Twenty (83%) employees reported symptomatic disease. Seventy-two environmental samples were collected from communal areas for SARS-CoV-2 genomic testing. None was positive. Two-hundred and thirty-six surgical cases were reviewed for transmission, 213 (90%) had negative pre-operative SARS-CoV-2 testing, 21 (9%) had a positive test on or before the date of surgery and 2 (<1%) did not have a pre-operative test performed. Forty patients underwent post-operative testing (mean 13 days to post-operative testing), and 2 returned positive results. Neither case was linked to our outbreak. Conclusions: Complacency in infection control practices among staff during peak community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is believed to have driven staff-to-staff transmission. Prompt identification of the outbreak led to rapid interventions ultimately allowing for continued uninterrupted OR operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInfection control and hospital epidemiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 among Operating Room Staff of a Tertiary Referral Center: An Epidemiologic and Environmental Investigation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this