Duct Tape Reduces Hospital Infections

June 30, 2011

A study performed at Trinity Regional Health System in Iowa and Illinois has proven what we have always known: Duct tape is incredible and can do anything.

A study performed at Trinity Regional Health System in Iowa and Illinois has proven what we have always known: Duct tape is incredible and can do anything.

This includes preventing infections in hospitals.

The two year study is aptly named the "The Red Box Strategy: An Innovative Method to Improve Isolation Precaution Compliance and Reduce Costs.” Why, you ask? Because the researchers placed red duct tape in boxes on the floor near the beds of patients with dangerous infections. The three-foot boxes were designated areas where doctors and other health-care providers could stand to talk to patients without having to put on personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves.

The findings were astounding, to say the least: the researchers discovered that these simple boxes significantly improved the quality and frequency of physician interaction with patients, benefiting both the patients and the hospital staff.

Particularly exciting, however, was the fact that the red duct tape boxes saved both a substantial amount of time and money, namely 2,700 hours and $110,000 a year in supplies and personnel costs.

As an added bonus, the mere sight of the red duct-tape boxes on the floor helped improve overall hospital safety, as anyone who looked into the room would recognize that the patient inside suffered from a potentially dangerous infection and was in isolation; this used to only be made clear from signs near the doorway.

"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," study co-author Janet Franck.

Trinity Hospital presented the study this week at the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology’s 2011 Annual Conference and International Meeting in Baltimore, where the study received the association's Blue Ribbon Abstract Award.