For Infection Prevention, Try Duct Tape

Cheryl Clark, June 27, 2011

Staff at hospitals that choose active surveillance and patient isolation to prevent bug transmission must endure the hassle of gowning and gloving for  each patient encounter. The upshot is that important communication with the patient sometimes loses to more pressing healthcare needs.

But members of the infection team at Trinity Regional Health System, a four-hospital network with 504 beds on the Illinois/Iowa border, say they've found a solution that is amazingly low tech: Duct tape.

They call the solution the "Red Box" safe zone, a three-foot square area of space from the threshold of the patient's room, marked off with red duct tape purchased at a local hardware store.

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Now when an isolated patient has a simple request, such as a glass of water, or needs to go to the restroom, staff can stand within that box to communicate to the patient in the room without having to don gowns and gloves.  "It lessened barriers to communicating," said Janet Nau Franck, infection prevention consultant at Trinity and author of the report.


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