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Negative Pressure Room

In healthcare settings, particularly when treating patients with infectious diseases, maintaining a clean and controlled environment is paramount. Negative pressure rooms play a crucial role in achieving this goal.

Negative Pressure Room

Understanding Negative Pressure:

  • Maintaining a Pressure Gradient:  A negative pressure operating room maintains an air pressure lower than the surrounding areas (corridors, prep rooms). This pressure difference creates a directional airflow, preventing contaminated air from escaping into the general hospital environment.

  • Ventilation System:   A well-designed ventilation system is vital. It ensures a constant flow of fresh air into the operating room while removing contaminated air through exhaust fans.

Benefits of Negative Pressure Rooms:

  • Air Pollution Control:  Negative pressure effectively minimizes the risk of airborne pathogens spreading within the hospital.

  • Improved Patient Safety:  It helps prevent healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) by containing potentially infectious particles during surgery.

  • Odor and Moisture Control:  Similar to a bathroom exhaust fan, negative pressure helps eliminate unpleasant odors and excess moisture.

Maintaining Negative Pressure:

  • Balancing Ventilation:  Creating a negative pressure environment involves balancing the supply and exhaust airflows within the operating room. The exhaust volume needs to be slightly higher than the supply volume.

  • Room Sealing:  For optimal effectiveness, the room needs to be well-sealed to prevent air leakage from gaps around doors, windows, or equipment. A well-sealed room allows for a higher negative pressure value.

  • Monitoring and Adjustments:  Regular monitoring of the negative pressure level is essential. Adjustments to the ventilation system or sealing measures may be necessary to maintain the desired pressure difference.

Smoke Testing for Verification:

A simple smoke test can be conducted to verify the presence of negative pressure. Smoke gently released from under a closed door will flow into the room if negative pressure is established. This test helps identify any leakage issues that need to be addressed.

Operational Considerations:

  • Door and Window Management:  Maintaining proper closure of doors and windows within the negative pressure zone and surrounding areas is crucial to sustain the pressure gradient.

  • Air Purifiers:  If air purifiers like ventilation cabinets or biosafety cabinets are present, they should be kept operational during surgery.

  • Multiple Rooms:  If the operating suite includes a reception area, pressure differentials between the corridor, reception room, and operating room should be independently verified.


Negative pressure operating rooms are a vital tool for safeguarding patient and healthcare worker safety by controlling airflow and minimizing the spread of infectious agents. By implementing a well-designed ventilation system, maintaining proper sealing, and adhering to operational protocols, healthcare facilities can ensure optimal functionality of negative pressure rooms.

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