Teaching right by showing wrong

While these ICPs may have no future on the big screen, their "homemade" video captured common infection control mistakes with the accuracy of a Meryl Streep accent.

Taking second place in the protecting patients category of our 2001 Infection Control Innovation Awards contest is Darcy Koch, RN, ICP at Jefferson Memorial Hospital in Crystal City, MO. The video showed Koch and fellow actors leaving rooms with gloves on, letting transported patients cough freely in the halls, and practicing a conspicuous lack of hand washing. "More and more, we were seeing health care workers forgetting the basics," she says. "Our employees were becoming so overly concerned with getting the correct isolation ordered or following precautions in those rooms only. My partner and I set out to reeducate but felt we were falling on deaf ears. We needed a new approach."

Thus began the "Back to the Basics" campaign. The hospital marketing department was completely booked up so they grabbed a camcorder and did their best General Hospital dramatics. The idea was to keep them "entertained, talking, and exchanging questions and concerns," Koch says. The video consists of seven short skits that displayed poor infection control practices. "We paused the VCR throughout, allowing time for them to find [mistakes] and discuss them. The clincher was at the end. After much disbelief of what the nurses were doing in the video, we told them that the issues were taken directly from our top 30 surveillance findings in-house. That was a big eye opener."

Clinical consequences include lower rates of important pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, she reports. "Administration has now agreed to back another video for us, this time using professional equipment."

Honorable mention in the same category was a storage innovation designed by Lanette Rhodes, RN, ICP, and colleagues at Winchester (VA) Medical Center. As antibiotic resistance increases, there is an increased need for hospital isolation compliance. But bulky isolation supplies often are located in patients’ rooms, hall isolation carts, and boxes cluttering hallways and posing fire, logistic, and regulatory problems. The innovation began with a linen sheet prototype with four pockets: two for isolation gowns, one for masks, one for regulated medical waste bags, and one for linen isolation tags and waterless hand cleaner. The caddy can be folded with the items secured in the pockets. The folded bag can be secured with a loop and ties to the patients’ door. Christmas wreath hangers were used to secure the bags. The heavy-duty hangers held the weight of the caddy and the contents and allowed the door to close securely. The caddies are now used for storage of isolation supplies for patients in contact and enteric isolation.