Trinity Iowa Health Logo Blue ribbons may remind us of top notch achievements. This time it’s a medical clan that has laid hands on one. The Trinity Infection Prevention team has designed a Red Box safe zone for interaction with patients without the fear of infection, simultaneously saving time and money.

For almost a year, Trinity’s Infection Prevention team examined ways in which they could conveniently lower costs and time of interactions between physicians and isolated patients suffering from serious infection. Considering that there is no danger if patients are addressed from the main door, the study was crafted to enable a safe zone for communication with patients without donning protective equipment (PPE).

What they came up with was a simple roll of red duct tape. The scientists designed a three-foot square known as ‘Red Box’ which seemed to provide a safe zone inside the door from where professionals could have a chat with the patients. This tape could save about to 2,700 hours and $110,000 every year without the need of PPE each time.

“This is an innovative strategy that costs as much as a roll of duct tape, and yet pays off with significant savings in time, money and increased satisfaction for both patients and associates,” shared study co-author Janet Franck.

At Trinity, nearly 30 percent of interactive sessions with patients were conducted in the Red Box. The study revealed that staff could enter the place without PPE for a quick check and interaction. The box may also help caretakers know that that they are about to enter an isolation room which would otherwise be indicated by a sign outside the patient’s room.

There was no need for unused gowns and gloves which helped save even more money. With no need of donning PPE, the communication between patients and doctors increased considerably in quality and quantity, eventually satisfying everyone.

A survey conducted disclosed that 67% of Trinity’s health-care workers believed that the Red Box reduced barriers when talking with patients. 79.2% reportedly felt that the Red Box helped to save time since there was not need to put on and remove PPE. The same number of respondents said that it was a convenient option for physicians to connect with patients in the isolated ward.

The Trinity Prevention Team was presented the Blue Ribbon Abstract Award for their work ‘The Red Box Strategy: An Innovative Method to Improve Isolation Precaution Compliance and Reduce Costs’, at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s 2011 Annual Conference and International Meeting June27-29 in Baltimore.