Intended for healthcare professionals


Face masks in operating theatres

BMJ 2004; 328 doi: (Published 17 June 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;328:1481


What are the reasons for wearing face masks in operating theatres, and do they actually serve any purpose?

Carl Dougliss, senior operating department practitioner (theatres)

Cannock Chase Hospital, Cannock


To prevent bacteria entering the patient. Aerobic bacteria such as Streptococcus species—normal flora of the human nasal cavity—can pass into the bloodstream of the patient as a result of the surgeon sneezing or even breathing. …

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