Duct tape may help stop infection spread

June 27, 2011 at 11:50 PM
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BALTIMORE, June 27 (UPI) -- A simple roll of duct tape may offer an inexpensive way to help reduce the spread of infections in U.S. hospitals, researchers suggest.

The infection prevention team at the Trinity Medical Center in the Quad Cities on the Iowa/Illinois border say they created a "Red Box" safe zone -- a 3-foot square of red duct tape extending from the threshold of the door of patients who have infections -- to facilitate communication with patients in isolation or with "contact precautions."

"This is a simple but very effective mechanism to conserve resources and yet remain in touch with the patient," Russell N. Olmsted, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control, says in a statement. "It can serve as a model for healthcare providers who strive to deliver better care and reduce costs."

The study, conducted in a 504-bed Midwestern health system, saved as much as 2,700 hours and $110,000 a year by creating the safe zone. Typically, healthcare professionals must wear personal protective equipment before entering an isolated patient's room for any type of communication, but donning gowns and gloves before each interaction is time-consuming and costly, and creates communication barriers with patients, the researchers say. The box also serves as an additional visual cue to remind hospital staff that they are entering an isolation room, which is usually only indicated by a small sign outside the patient's room, the study says.

The findings were presented at the 38th Annual Educational Conference and International Meeting of the APIC.

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