How to Drape a Patient in the Operating Room


Surgical draping a patient reduces the risk of surgical site infections by forming a barrier between the surgical area and probable sources of bacteria. Draping isolates the treatment area for surgery and protects it from contaminants. Sterile drapes, when placed on the patient by surgical assistants, must remain undisturbed; if the sterile drapes touch an unsterile field, a new sterile drape is used. A member of the surgical team (the circulator), is responsible for disposing of all contaminated drapes.

Things You'll Need

  • Sterile draping pack (for specific surgery type)
  • Surgical clips
  • Surgical stand
  • Remove the outer covering of the draping pack (should be done by an "unscrubbed" surgical assistant). Gently pull and release each layer of covering away from the center of the pack. Keep your hands from touching the inner covering of the sterile pack.

  • Open the inner covering of the sterile draping pack (should be done by a "scrubbed" surgical assistant). Remove the fan-folded draping sheets one at a time. Hold the sheets high above the waist to prevent contamination.

  • Place the folded edge of a sterile draping sheet near the incision site to expose it for surgery (should be done by the "scrubbed" assistant or a surgeon). Lay another sheet on the opposite side, in the same manner to further outline the incision site. Continue draping with additional sterile sheets to cover the entire surgical area and secure with surgical clips.

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  • Photo Credit surgery image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from
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