St. Luke’s shares 10 tips for signs

They’re simple, cheap and effective

The staff at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital has implemented dozens of visual control measures that have streamlined procedures, reduced errors, and improved patient care. Here are 10 of them:

1. "No Caffeine" stickers, which include a list of prohibited food and drinks, are placed on door of patients scheduled to receive stress tests — could save an extra day of stay by eliminating misleading readings.

2. Telephone etiquette card is placed by the phone to remind staff how to be courteous.

3. Large pink sign and arm band indicate a patient’s dominant arm, so the other is used for IVs and other procedures.

4. "Do Not Enter" sign reminds staff a patient is sleeping. The flip side of the sign, similar to those found hanging on door knobs in hotels, tells staff when a patient is being bathed and needs privacy.

5. "No Food" sticker shows plate, cup, knife, fork, and spoon inside a circle with a slash through it — created by a nurse who worked with non-English speaking patients and visitors to make sure they, too, knew to comply with dietary restrictions.

6. Sign for neutropenic patients explains no food, plants, or sick visitors allowed in the room. It also tells visitors to wash their hands before entering the room.

7. "Heparin Flow Rate" chart is placed near medication sheets.

8. Pocket cards on the 10 steps to clean a room speed learning curve for new recruits and refresh memories of old recruits.

9. Telephone numbers and critical values laminated on cards and placed behind badges saves staff 12 hours a year per floor of wasted search time.

10. Placing arrows on an ambiguous sign sends visitors in the right direction, saving 27 hours a year per floor.