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Hospital Bans Flowers to Minimize Infections, Clutter

Marianne Aiello, for HealthLeaders Media, November 30, 2009

A new policy decision made by a Northern England hospital has struck a chord among a unique niche: florists. The 650-bed York Hospital announced it will ban flowers from all patient rooms beginning December 1 in an attempt to curb infections—and clutter.

"We've had a really significant focus on de-cluttering all our ward clinical areas over the past two or three months," says Libby McManus, chief nurse for York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. "Quite often what happens is the room may be clean, but since it's untidy it gives the impression of not being clean."

Patient rooms at York Hospital can contain up to five beds, each with a chair and a locker, making space scarce. Nurses have been complaining about the nuisance of flowers for a long period of time, McManus says.

"In our high-risk areas we already have a ban on flowers and plants because patients are already at risk in those areas from the spores that flowers and plants carry," she says. "We decided to roll it out to the rest of the hospital because sometimes patients get numerous bouquets of flowers and because there's nowhere to put them and they get in the way."

Banning flowers in certain departments because of space restraints and germ concerns is common in many hospitals, but eliminating flowers entirely is rare, says Christine Nutty RN, MSN, CIC, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

"The majority of the ICUs and cardiac care units ban flowers and part of that is for lack of space," she says. "They have so much equipment in the critical care unit they do restrict the flowers being brought in. It's for cleanliness as well as a space issue."

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