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Duct tape improves infection prevention in hospitals

A hospital on the Illinois and Iowa border is using duct tape to revolutionise communications with its patients. The Trinity Medical Center has used th...

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|Jul 28|magazine8 min read

A hospital on the Illinois and Iowa border is using duct tape to revolutionise communications with its patients.

The Trinity Medical Center has used the adhesive tape to create a ‘Red Box’ safe zone just inside the door of the room.

This is a three foot square where doctors and nurses can stand to talk to isolated patients without coming into close contact with highly contagious or infectious patients.

According to the hospital, the duct tape safe zone has driven a saving of approximately US$110,000 in one year from unused gloves, masks and gowns.

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It has also been estimated that around 2,700 working hours have been saved with the method as it has eliminated the need to change into personal protective equipment (PPE) for brief communications with patients.   

A study into the benefits of the Red Box method was carried out by Trinity’s infection prevention team.

It found approximately 30 percent of all contact doctors had with isolated patients happened in the safe zone area.

Meanwhile, 67 percent of healthcare workers said the duct tape box had increased interactions between doctors and patients.

Just over 79 percent of healthcare professionals also said they thought the Red Box made liaisons with patients easier.

Janet Nau Franck, one of the authors of the study, said: “This is an innovative strategy that could be of great value to other hospitals.

“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.

The results at the study have been presented at the 38th Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC).

The APIC president, President Russell N. Olmsted, said: “This is a simple but very effective mechanism to conserve resources and yet remain in touch with the patient.

“It can serve as a model for healthcare providers who strive to deliver better care and reduce costs.”