Trinity Infection Prevention team uses duct tape to reduce infections, save $110,000
June 28, 2011
Summertime means county fairs and blue ribbons. But for Trinity’s Infection Prevention team, it means a different kind of blue ribbon – a Blue Ribbon Abstract Award for their presentation, The Red Box Strategy: An Innovative Method to Improve Isolation Precaution Compliance and Reduce Costs, which received the designation at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s 2011 Annual Conference and International Meeting June27-29 in Baltimore.
From January 2009 to December 2010, Trinity’s Infection Prevention team studied ways to safely reduce time and cost of communication between health-care providers and patients isolated with dangerous infections. Since no documented risk exists to communicate with patients at the door’s entrance, the study was designed to look at whether a safe zone could be created to communicate with the patient without donning PPE.
Their solution? A simple roll of red duct tape. By creating a three-foot square “Red Box” safe zone inside the door from which associates could talk to the patient, the group realized that Trinity could save up to 2,700 hours and $110,000 each year by not requiring the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) each time they entered.
At Trinity, approximately 30 percent of interactions with patients in isolation were performed in the “Red Box.” The study showed that staff could safely enter the area without PPE for quick communication and assessment. The box also serves as an additional visual cue to remind health-care workers that they are entering an isolation room, which is usually only indicated by a sign outside the patient’s room.
Saving money on unused gowns and gloves was a plus. Not having to don PPE increased the quality and frequency of interaction with patients, which made both staff and patients happier as well.
In a satisfaction survey, 67% of Trinity’s health-care 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 health-care workers could assess and communicate with patients more easily.
“This is an innovative strategy that costs as much as a roll of duct tape, and yet pays off with significant savings in time, money and increased satisfaction for both patients and associates,” study co-author Janet Franck said.