Some 700,000 cases of surgical site infections occur each year, leading to time away from work, degraded life style, suffering, and in some cases, death. New research funded by ASHRAE is expected to decrease patient exposure to particles that cause these infections by enhancing design guidelines for hospital operating rooms.

        ASHRAE recently released nine projects for bid, including 1397-TRP, Experimental Investigation of Hospital Operating Room (OR) Air Distribution.

        The research is expected to verify earlier analysis that a protective thermal plume maintained above the surgical site will reduce the deposition of infectious particles, according to Robert Cox, a member of ASHRAE’s technical committee, 9.6, on health care facilities, which is sponsoring the project.

        “These results will have significant impact on practical operating room design guidelines, allowing designers to better place air distribution in the operating room to maximize the HVAC system's impact on preventing spread of infection and to perhaps reduce overall airflow rates in the operating room,” Cox said.

        Results also could be used to improve air distribution engineering elsewhere in health care, such as patient protection rooms and infection isolation rooms, and in similar applications, such as industrial clean rooms.

        For more information on submitting a project bid, and other projects currently open for bid, visit