Longwoods Blog

From Forbes.com. Read the full text here.

On the TV show Burn Notice, ex-spy Michael Westen often provides tips and aphorisms for the spy trade for those of us taking notes. Of the aphorisms, my absolute favorite is this: “Duct tape makes you smart.”

It seems that this not only applies to spies, but to hospitals, as well.

In a recent study performed on behalf of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), a hosptial in the Midwest conducted a study testing a new theory in treating patients who were isolated because of contagious infections. Currently, most hospitals follow a simple protocol for health care professionals who enter the room of isolated patients – they have to wear caps, gowns and gloves. And they have to whether they’re just coming in for quick communications or doing a thorough examination.

While this protocol does help protect against the spread of infection, it’s also time-consuming and expensive. So the potential solution presented in the study is simple: using a roll of duct tape, a “safe zone” was marked out on the floor in the room, extending about three feet from the threshold. When all that’s required of patient interaction is quick communication, the health care professionals entered the “safe zone” without donning protective garb.

About 30% of the visits to the patients turned out to be of the quick communication variety, and the use of the safe zone was determined to have saved about $110,000 and 2,700 manhours over the course of one year. Pretty impressive results.

Unfortunately, the materials provided don’t indicate whether there was any increased risk of infection that developed over the course of the study. At first glance, it seems like the protocol would make this a non-issue, but it’d be good to see some numbers to back that up.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 10:50 am and is filed under Longwoods Online.