HKS: Blurring the Lines between Patient Safety and Satisfaction
Infection control is one of the biggest hot topics in healthcare today. Much of this may be attributed to growing MRSA outbreaks in America and other nations. Infection control can be directly linked with patient safety and satisfaction. But where does the line between patient safety and patient satisfaction blur?
Recently, it seems that cubicle curtains in private patient rooms are in the line of fire. Because of their constant handling, cubicle curtains can transfer some of the worst hospital-acquired infections. Standard cubicle curtains require removing, maintaining, and laundering when turning over patient rooms, which is both time-consuming and expensive. Disposable curtains have become quite popular, but the maintenance costs of removing and replacing them is often as, if not more, costly. There are also anti-microbial curtains, which definitely help stem the spread of germs, do not need to be changed as often, and are more attractive than the disposable curtains. However, these are still new to the market, and fabric choices can be limited. Therein lies the question. How important is it to provide cubicle curtains in private patient rooms when the doors are equipped with glazing and integral blinds?
The argument can be made to remove them from the rooms, saving cost and possibly some square footage. But are the patients then sacrificing their privacy? The blinds can be used to control the amount of visual privacy, but since this should be controlled both inside and outside of the room, who’s to say who is really in control–the patient or the nurse? If it is determined in this case that the cubicle curtains are not needed, how far can this concept stretch? ICU, exam rooms, treatment rooms? Would this result in a decrease of hospital-acquired infections that could then defend the choice to add cost to the project by providing specialized doors? If so, it just might be worth the investment.