Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Making Contact Precautions More Friendly

In a recent posting, Dan Diekema pointed out some of the problems with contact precautions, one of which is a significant reduction of physician and nurse visits to isolated patients.

When our ICUs recently moved to a new building, one of our infection control nurses came up with a great idea. She noticed that in each patient room in the building, the floor color of the first two feet from the room entrance is different (blue) than the remainder of the floor (tan) as shown in the photo.

She proposed that for patients in contact precautions, gowns and gloves need not be worn when standing in the blue area and items in this area (e.g., the over bed table used for charting) are considered clean, but gowns and gloves must be worn when stepping onto the tan floor in the room. This has had several positive effects: nurses can use the overbed table on the blue floor for documentation without donning gowns and gloves, it allows for greater observation of the patient and for staff to speak to the patient more easily, and it is environmentally friendly by reducing the use of consumable products. Given the success of this change, we are now making similar changes in older parts of the hospital as they are renovated. This is a nice example of a simple solution that facilitates good care, reduces costs, and is green.

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