Innovative duct tape strategy saves hospitals time, money; improves infection prevention

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 and Epidemiology (APIC).

Conducted by the 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 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 are entering an isolation room, which is usually only indicated by a sign outside the patient's room.

"This is an innovative strategy that could be of great value to other hospitals," said study author Janet Nau Franck, RN, MBA, CIC. "It costs as much as a roll of tape, and yet pays off with significant savings in time, money and increased satisfaction for both patients and staff."

"This is a simple but very effective mechanism to conserve resources and yet remain in touch with the patient," said APIC 2011 President Russell N. Olmsted, MPH, CIC. "It can serve as a model for healthcare providers who strive to deliver better care and reduce costs."

The study took place from January 2009 to December 2010.

Provided by Association for Professionals in Infection Control

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Study finds MRSA screening saves hospitals money

Jan 27, 2011

Screening patients in the intensive care unit (ICU) for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) produces cost savings for the whole hospital, according to a study that used a statistical simulation model published ...

APIC launches first national C. difficile prevalence study

Mar 20, 2008

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) today announced a detailed strategy to combat Clostridium difficile-associated disease (CDAD). The initiative begins with the first national prevalence ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

Italy scraps ban on donor-assisted reproduction

Apr 09, 2014

Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday struck down a Catholic Church-backed ban against assisted reproduction with sperm or egg donors that has forced thousands of sterile couples to seek help abroad.

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
not rated yet Jun 27, 2011
I implemented a similar protocol a ta quality control laboratory in Colorado on 2002. Yellow duct tape on the floor marked the edge of the "hot zone" beyond which chemical hygiene measures were required, but which allowed quick verbal communication between lab personnel and 'civilians.'