Tip of the Month: Give infectious patients a respiratory packet

It’s a year-round problem in every ED: How to limit exposure of coughing, sneezing, or sniffling patients. At St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton, CA, ED nurses had a networking session at the beginning of last year’s flu season to find effective ways to protect patients and staff.

The nurses came up with an inexpensive solution: At triage, any patient with a fever, cough, or respiratory complaint is given a resealable plastic bag containing a simple isolation mask, antiseptic hand wipes, small packet of tissues, and a paper disposable bag. The "respiratory packet" gives instructions in English and Spanish about hand washing and basic infection control, and it has been very effective in stopping the spread of germs, says Vicki Sweet, RN, MS, CEN, CCRN, manager of emergency services.

"The packets have been very well accepted by the staff, and most patients are very grateful," Sweet reports. "They appreciate the efforts we have taken to protect them from further infection."

[Editor’s note: For more information, contact Vicki Sweet, RN, MS, CEN, CCRN, Manager, Emergency Services, St. Jude Medical Center, 101 E. Valencia Mesa Drive, Fullerton, CA 92835. Telephone: (714) 992-3979. E-mail: vsweet@sjf.stjoe.org. Do you have a tip to share with ED Nursing readers? If so, please contact Staci Kusterbeck, Editor, ED Nursing, 280 Nassau Road, Huntington NY 11743. Telephone: (631) 425-9760. Fax: (631) 271-1603. E-mail: StaciKusterbeck@aol.com.]