The Unsung Heroes in Surgical Safety

Global Health Now publishes commentary by OR nurse and Lifebox trainer, Belinda Karimi

Ahead of International Nurses Day, it is crucial to spotlight the critical role of operating room nurses in ensuring surgical safety. Nurses are the backbone of successful surgical outcomes; they blend compassion and clinical expertise, managing every aspect of patient care from preoperative to recovery, making them the true unsung heroes in the OR.

Today, Global Health NOW has published the experience of Belinda Karimi, a seasoned theatre nurse, and Lifebox’s nurse mentor and trainer. In Theatre Nurses:  The Unsung Heroes in Surgical SafetyBelinda shares her reflective journey into nursing—a path inspired by nurses’ impact during her mother’s hospitalization. This experience shifted her career aspirations from journalism to nursing, where she has since become an advocate for patient safety. “From the moment we entered the hospital, the compassion and empathy of the nurses were palpable,” Belinda recalls, emphasizing the profound emotional support nurses provide alongside their clinical duties

Reflecting on a critical incident early in her career, Belinda recounts, “During a tense surgery, I sensed that a needle was mishandled. Speaking up despite the hierarchical pressures led to significant changes in the operating room.” This experience reinforced her determination to advocate for patients.

Globally, over 300 million surgeries are performed annually and a significant number result in preventable complications or deaths. Operating room nurses like Belinda face unique challenges in reducing these risks. They ensure the surgical environment is safe and infection-free, assist during surgeries, manage patient recovery, and often serve as the primary caregivers post-surgery. “Our vigilance ensures sterile instruments, adherence to protocols, and a patient-centric focus, anticipating needs and responding to emergencies for successful outcomes,” Belinda explains, highlighting the unique demands of their role.

Belinda Karimi (left) leading nurse training for safe instrument reprocessing

Lifebox is making a difference by addressing the lack of training and leadership opportunities for nurses in low-resource settings through the Nursing Leadership for Surgical Excellence program. This perioperative nursing fellowship equips nurses with the skills and knowledge to excel. This program empowers nurses by enhancing their leadership, research, and advocacy skills, positioning them as crucial decision-makers within surgical teams.

Belinda’s collaboration with Lifebox as a nurse trainer underscores the importance of continuous education and adherence to best practices, such as the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. These are vital for maintaining and elevating the standard of care in operating rooms worldwide. This highlights the need for more opportunities like these to support the professional development of operating room nurses.

As we honor the commitment and expertise of operating room nurses like Belinda, let us recognize their role as caregivers and central figures in advancing surgical safety and patient care. Their dedication is critical to transforming lives—one surgery at a time.

Read more about Belinda’s experiences and insights in her article published by Global Health Now here.

Join us in celebrating and supporting the incredible work of operating room nurses worldwide.

About Belinda Karimi

Belinda Karimi Mbaabu is a registered nurse from Kenya. She has ten years of experience as an operating room nurse. Her nursing journey has led her to diverse countries like Somalia, Rwanda, Angola, and Bangladesh through the Bela Risu Foundation, dedicated to cleft lip and palate repair. She also collaborates with Lifebox as a nurse trainer, advocating for safe surgery and sharing experiences to save lives in low-resource countries.