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Innovative duct tape strategy saves hospitals time, money; improves infection prevention
Date:6/27/2011

Baltimore, Maryland, June 27, 2011 A simple roll of duct tape has proven to be an inexpensive solution to the costly and time-consuming problem of communicating with hospital patients who are isolated with dangerous infections.

A 504-bed Midwestern health system saved up to 2,700 hours and $110,000 a year by creating a "Red Box" safe zone, a three-foot square of red duct tape extending from the threshold of the door, to facilitate communication with patients on isolation or "Contact Precautions," according to an abstract presented today at the 38th Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

Conducted by the infection prevention team at the Trinity Medical Center in the Quad Cities on the Iowa/Illinois border, the study revealed that by utilizing this safe zone, their hospitals were able to save time, money in unused gowns and gloves, and that the quality and frequency of communication between healthcare professionals (HCP) and isolated patients increased.

Typically, HCPs must don personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering an isolated patient's room before any type of communication. Dressing in gowns and gloves before each interaction is time-consuming, costly and creates communication barriers with patients. The study showed that HCPs could safely enter the Red Box area without PPE for quick communication and assessment. At Trinity, approximately 30 percent of interactions with patients on Contact Precautions were performed in the Red Box.

In a satisfaction survey, 67% of healthcare workers said that the Red Box lessened barriers when communicating with patients. Also, 79.2% reported that the Red Box saved time in not having to put on and remove PPE. The same number said healthcare workers could assess and communicate with patients more easily. The box also serves as an additional visual cue to remind HCPs that they
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Contact: Liz Garman
egarman@apic.org
202-454-2604
Association for Professionals in Infection Control
Source:Eurekalert

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