Observing licensed independent practitioners mark surgical sites with all types of marking pens is a concern related to the potential spread of infections from patient to patient. The practice of using the same marking pen to mark a surgical site has been questioned as a source of cross contamination. A literature review was done on recent studies and best practice recommendations to determine whether marking pens can act as fomites for nosocomial infections. The review indicated that surgical site markers, ink pens, and aging permanent marking pens can be a source for cross-infection with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, other bacteria, fungus, or virus. The type of marking pens used and the act of using the same marking pen from patient to patient could contribute to nosocomial infections. The literature reviewed recommends a single time use of a surgical marking pen. Interventions to prevent cross contamination and postoperative surgical site infections are a major concern in the care of the orthopaedic patient.
Ann Marie Driessche, BSN, RN, ONC, TNCC, Lead Preceptor of Perioperative Services, Oakwood Annapolis Hospital, Wayne, Michigan.
The authors have disclosed no conflicts of interest.