One Super Simple Way to Delight Your Patients

December 10th, 2013

Use patients' names to increase satisfactionAt a time when everyone is looking for ways to increase patient satisfaction, making small improvements may be easier than you think.

The more positive interactions a patient has with hospital staff, the more likely they are to rate their hospital experience as favorable. So how can you increase the likelihood that every interaction is positive?

Dale Carnegie Answered the Question in 1936

Dale Carnegie, the master of human relations, said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

If that’s true, and Mr. Carnegie’s axioms have survived almost eight decades, it’s just that simple to delight your patients.

Use his or her name. It personalizes the experience and makes the patient feel valued and special because you took the time to find out and use their name.

The Role of the Housekeeper

One critical but often-overlooked member of hospital staff, the housekeeper, has an opportunity each day to engage the patient and contribute to a pleasant experience.

By smiling warmly, making eye contact and addressing the patient by name when they enter the room, housekeepers can bring a smile to the patient’s face. And every smile can impact the patient’s overall satisfaction with their experience at your hospital.

More Tips to Delight Patients

To get more ideas for ways to increase patient satisfaction at your hospital, download our free guide, 5 Ways to Delight Your Patients and Increase Satisfaction.

3 Ways to Delight Your Patients and Increase Satisfaction

November 5th, 2013

3 Ways to Delight Your PatientsWith so much riding on patient satisfaction these days, hospital leaders are looking for tangible, cost-effective ways to impact scores.

Housekeepers interact with each patient every day, providing an opportunity to engage, and even delight, the patient. Below are three ways that housekeepers can capitalize on these opportunities to positively impact patient satisfaction.

1. Call patients by name.

As Dale Carnegie, the master of human interaction, said, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Using patients’ names personalizes their experience. They feel valued and special because a housekeeper took the time to find out and use their name.

2. Provide contact information.

Simply knowing that help is available if you need it can make you feel much more relaxed and at ease.

To give patients this comfort, leave a tent card or postcard in each patient room with the housekeeping phone number, as well as instructions for requesting any needed items or services.

3. Create a “picture perfect room.”

Hotel staff know exactly how a room should be set up before a new guest arrives, to ensure that each guest gets a consistent, quality experience.

Your hospital can borrow this technique by creating a “picture perfect room” scenario. Establish exactly how every patient room should look after discharge, and communicatethis to housekeeping staff. This guarantees that every patient arrives to asparkling, fresh room, no matter when they stay or what room they are assigned.

2 More Ways to Delight Patients

To get more ideas for ways to increase patient satisfaction at your hospital, download our free guide, 5 Ways to Delight Your Patients and Increase Satisfaction.

What’s the cost of HACs?

September 10th, 2013

What's the Cost of HACs?Research published by JAMA Internal Medicine estimates the annual cost of the top five hospital acquired conditions at $9.8 billion.

Per-Case Costs of HACs

According to the study, on a per-case basis, the top five most expensive conditions were:

  • Central line-associated bloodstream infection ($45,814 per case)
  • Ventilator-associated pneumonia ($40,144 per case)
  • Surgical site infection ($20,785 per case)
  • C.diff infection ($11,285 per case)
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infection ($896 per case)

Annual Costs of HACs

According to the study, on an annual basis, the five most expensive conditions were:

  • Surgical site infections ($3.3 billion annually)
  • Ventilator associated pneumonia ($3.1 billion annually)
  • Central line-associated bloodstream infections ($1.85 billion annually)
  • C.diff infections ($1.5 billion annually)
  • Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (<$100 million annually)

If you’re looking for ways to reduce your hospital’s costs from hospital associated conditions, download our free guide, 6 Ways to Fight HAIs.

Free Guide: 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS

How Hospitals of the Future Keep Patients Safe

July 2nd, 2013

Hospitals of the future will have new technologies and strategies for keeping patients safe and preventing HAIs. Take a sneak peak at some of these features with an interactive graphic from AARP.

Hospital Safety and HAI Prevention

Take a look at the features relating to environmental services and the prevention of HAIs:

1. Double-sided closets
Environmental services staff can restock supplies without entering the room. This means less disruption to the patient and less potential for the spread of infection.

3. Dual Bin Supply System
A two-bin system keeps supplies stocked so healthcare providers have ample supply. Environmental services staff restock empty bins.

4. Hand Washing Station
We all know hand washing is the number one way to prevent HAIs, so the sink is located as close as possible to the point of care.

8. Disinfecting Unit
Disinfection units use ultraviolet light to kill pathogens that can cause HAIs.

10. Ceiling Vents
Ventilation systems pull air out of the rooms of contagious patients, filter it, and then release it. This keeps airborne bacteria fromreaching other patients.

13. Germ-Resistant Surfaces
Hospitals are looking to use antimicrobial surfaces for critical touch points in the patient environment.

14. Motion Sensors
Technology can provide healthcare providers with reminders to wash their hands. For instance, motion sensors can cause a faucet to light up or automatically activate water flow when providers enter the room.

Click here to see more patient safety features.

Free Guide: 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS

What Role Does the Patient Environment Play in Infection Prevention?

June 20th, 2013

The Role of the Patient Environment in Infection PreventionIt has long been known that medical devices and hand washing play a major part in the transmission of hospital acquired infections. There has been more debate, however, on the role of the patient environment and surfaces.

Initiatives in Safe Patient Care published Infection Prevention: Contamination and Cross Contamination on Hospital Surfaces and Medical Equipment — an article and panel discussion with experts in the field addressing this topic. A few of the most compelling arguments are below:

“There is an increasing body of literature that shows the role of the environment in transmission of infection. For example, there is a greater risk of infection with various drug-resistant organisms and C. difficile for patients who are housed in rooms previously occupied by others with these organisms. In addition, surface cleaning is not done as well as protocols suggest. The revelation that cleaning is not done consistently and that drug-resistant organisms can be recovered from hospital surfaces has brought about an awareness of the role of these areas in disease transmission.”

- Janet Haas, DNSc

“The transmission of two common HAI pathogens illustrates the importance of the environment in HAI prevention. C. difficile – or VRE – colonized patients contaminate their environment, leading to subsequent transmission of these pathogens to patients. Recent outbreaks of the C. difficile strain known as the North American Pulsefield Type 1 (or NAP 1 strain) have illustrated the critical importance of environmental cleaning in preventing C. difficile associated disease (CDAD). As noted by my fellow panelists, with the emergence of every more resistant pathogens, enhanced environmental cleaning is a critical for preventing infections.”

- William Jarvis, MD

Environmental surfaces act as a reservoir for bacterial and viral gathering and proliferation. These organisms can be expelled from an infected or colonized patient either through direct contact, aerosol droplets, or feces…The advent of molecular epidemiology is helping with a better understanding of the role of the environment in nosocomial infection by confirming that environmental isolates are the same as patient isolates.”

- John Davies, MS, RRT, FAARC

No studies have adequately assessed the relative role of the environment versus other modes of transmission of HAI pathogens. Furthermore, the relative importance of the environment in HAI pathogen transmission varies by the specific HAI pathogen. It is clear that for C. difficile (where spores rather than vegetative forms can survive for long periods in the environment and can be difficult to eradicate) and VRE, the environment plays a large and important role in transmission. MRSA, the environment was thought to be of relatively little importance, except in burn units where the environment was contaminated by MRSA caring skin squames. However, more recent data suggest that MRSA can contaminate the environment around infected or colonized patients. Thus the environment may play a larger role in MRSA transmission than previously thought, albeit less than healthcare worker hand hygiene. In general, the environment plays a larger role in transmission of Gram-negative than Gram-positive pathogens. Contamination of inanimate objects, particularly those taken from patient to patient increases the risk of colonization of the patient and of subsequent infection.”

- William Jarvis, MD

“Today, with highly antibiotic-resistant microorganisms, this primary means of controlling infection is no longer available. Hence, now there is an increased focus on the remaining tools that are available for preventing infection, i.e. cleaning and disinfection and better compliance with behavioral practices.”

- Alice Neely, PhD, FAAM, FIDSA

“Given the critical importance of environmental cleaning in preventing HAI transmission, it is unfortunate that this component of infection prevention often gets little attention. Often, environmental personnel are the least educated, lowest paid personnel with very high turnover rates. Environmental services personnel should all receive education about HAI prevention at the time of hire and in-service. Didactic lectures are not sufficient. Visual training of how they should clean the environment and medical equipment should be provided. Videos can be helpful. They should then be asked to clean a room after glow-germ has been applied to important environmental surfaces. A black light can show them how well they’ve done. In addition, having personnel do a hand culture, with and without hand hygiene, can illustrate the extent to which invisible pathogens are on their hands.”

- William Jarvis, MD

“The hospital environment is contaminated by a variety of pathogenic and nonpathogenic microorganisms that can persist on surfaces for prolonged periods. Numerous studies have demonstrated that the hands and gloves of healthcare workers readily acquire pathogens after contact with contaminated hospital surfaces and can transfer these organisms to subsequently touched patients and inanimate surfaces. The acquisition of nosocomial pathogens by a patient and the resultant development of infection depend on a multifaceted interplay between the environment, a pathogen and a susceptible host. However, there is good evidence that infection transmission via hospital surfaces and medical equipment can occur. For these reasons, hospitals must implement evidence-based infection prevention measures that will reduce the risk of transmission of pathogens via contaminated hospital surfaces and medical equipment and hold personnel accountable for adhering to these measures.”

Contamination and Cross Contamination on Hospital Surfaces and Medical Equipment

Free Guide: 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS

Benefits of Microfiber Cloths in EVS

June 5th, 2013

Microfiber cloth benefitsMicrofiber, an ultra-fine synthetic fiber made from polyester and nylon, is the ideal choice for healthcare EVS cleaning. It’s available as cloths, mops, high dusters and cleaning pads.

Let’s take a look at a few reasons why it’s a vital tool for infection prevention:

  • Microfiber is thinner than a human hair, allowing it to access nooks and crannies that cotton rags or paper towels couldn’t reach.
  • Fibers can hold 7 to 8 times their weight in liquid because of their increased surface area and unique shape.
  • Microfiber attracts and traps dust and microbes with a static electric charge. This prevents it from being released back into the patient environment.
  • Because of its unique properties, microfiber is significantly more effective than cotton at capturing bacteria, thus reducing the risk of spreading HAIs.
  • Cloths are available in different colors so that they can be used in a color-coded cleaning system designed to prevent cross contamination.
  • A microfiber mop uses less water and chemicals. This eliminates the need for housekeepers to wring heavy mops, which can result in injury.
  • Microfiber is available in a variety of different weights and densities, each performing better for certain cleaning tasks. This variety ensures you are always using the optimal cloth.


Does your hospital’s EVS department use microfiber for cleaning?

Free Guide: 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS

Color: The Simple Solution to Reducing Infections

May 29th, 2013

Color Coding Microfiber Cloths to Reduce InfectionBetween diagnostic testing, staying abreast of the latest developments, and measuring and reporting data, infection prevention in hospitals can quickly get complicated.

New technologies and initiatives for preventing HAIs are always being researched and deployed, but there’s one solution so simple that even a kindergartener could do it: color-coding.

Preventing Cross Contamination

The cloths being used by environmental services to clean common areas and patient rooms and bathrooms are a potential source of cross-contamination. Ensuring housekeepers use specific colored cloths in designated areas can greatly reduce this risk.

At a minimum, housekeepers should use two different color cloths in patient rooms — one for the room, and another for the restroom.

Choosing Your Color-Coding System

Though there is not an official color standard in the U.S., some trends have emerged:

  • Red – areas with high-risk of cross-contamination.
  • Yellow – areas with lower risk.
  • Green – food service areas.
  • Blue – low-risk, general purpose cleaning.

For simplicity and increased application, your facility may also consider matching the color of cloths to the color of the chemical or bottle used for cleaning the same area.

No matter what colors your hospital chooses, the most important thing is that the system is easy to learn, understand and recall.

Benefits of Color-Coding

Color-coding can improve and simplify your EVS training program, removing uncertainty from your cleaning staff so more consistent cleaning occurs. Colors also bridge any language barrier that might exist.

When housekeepers are using different colored cloths in a patient room, this creates an opportunity for the housekeeper to engage with the patient and explain the color system.


Does your hospital use a color-coded system for cleaning and infection prevention?

Free Guide: 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS

Not All Microfiber Cloths are Created Equal

May 22nd, 2013

Microfiber cloths have become the standard in environmental services cleaning because of their cleaning effectiveness, low cost and durability.

When infection prevention is the goal, it’s important to make sure your microfiber cloths are up to the task. Microfiber is manufactured in many different ways — at various grades — for different purposes, greatly affecting a cloth’s performance.

Before purchasing, ask these questions about the product:

  • Manufacturers produce cloths with different size weaves and densities to better accommodate different types of tasks. Be sure you are using the optimal cloth for each task.
  • Do the cloths allow for a color-coded method of cleaning to reduce cross contamination?
  • Can the cloths be washed in hot water and bleach and dried at a high temperature in a dryer? This is required in order to meet CDC guidelines for bloodborne pathogens. You may find that many labels state that the cloth should be air dried without heat.
  • Has the product been evaluated in controlled studies in peer-reviewed publications?
  • Is quat absorption an issue? When using a quaternary ammonium (quat) disinfectant, microfiber cloths — as well as other fabrics — will absorb some of the liquid, which affects how the cleaner is applied. If this variable is not accounted for, adequate disinfection may not occur. Ask the supplier for clinical testing that shows how the cloths interact with the chemicals you use.


What kind of microfiber cloth does your hospital use? Tell us in the comments.

For more information about reducing HAIs, download our free guide, 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS.

Free Guide: 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS

Keep Hospital Privacy Curtains from Spreading Infection

April 8th, 2013

As a touch point frequently contacted by patients, visitors and healthcare providers, hospital privacy curtains can easily become contaminated with dangerous bacteria and transmit infections.

After a thorough study, Dr. Michael Ohi of the University of Iowa suggested three tactics to reduce the risk of spreading infection via privacy curtains.

Prevent Hospital Privacy Curtains from Spreading Infection

Hand washing

It’s common for healthcare providers to wash their hands then move the curtains — contaminating their hands — before touching the patient.

The simplest way to avoid this is for healthcare providers to wash their hands after touching the curtain and before contacting the patient.

Frequent disinfecting

A study referenced by the CDC demonstrated the effectiveness of disinfection by spraying fabrics with 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Of course, surface disinfection is a component of a multi-faceted approach to preventing HAIs, however, given their material and location, curtains can be difficult to disinfect.

Environmental services (EVS) housekeepers are able to wipe down curtains with a cloth after every patient discharge, or send them to be laundered if curtains are visibly soiled.

Microbial resistant and disposable fabrics

One promising solution is the use of microbial resistant fabrics in hard-to-clean, soft surfaces, such as curtains, in hospitals. Additionally, utilizing a disposable curtain further reduces the potential to spread infection.

Why Are Privacy Curtains so Contaminated?

Privacy curtains tend to be expensive, so they typically hang for long time. Most hospitals replace them every quarter, though this can be extended to every six months amid budget cutbacks.

A Better Solution

Many hospitals are moving away from the use of privacy curtains. In addition to harboring and spreading infection, they do little to actually provide privacy or reduce noise.

When possible, private rooms are the ideal solution, because they:

  • Allow for better HAI control
  • Reduce patient stress
  • Improve sleep

And what do all of these have in common? They lead to improved patient satisfaction and increased HCAHPS scores.

To learn more about other strategies for improved patient satisfaction and HCAHPS results, contact SMS Healthcare.

Free Guide: 6 Ways to Fight HAIs with EVS

Photo credit: withassociates via photopin cc

Is Your EVS Department Spreading Infections?

March 25th, 2013

EVS Department

Environmental services (EVS) is working hard to keep your hospital clean and provide a safe environment for patient care.

But they could inadvertently be employing practices that spread — rather than kill — infection-causing bacteria, endangering patients and staff.

Let’s look at some of the common pitfalls.

Reusable Mop Heads and Contaminated Water-Disinfectant

Reusable mop heads, if not adequately cleaned and disinfected, can actually spread contamination throughout a facility. The same is possible if the water-disinfectant mixture is not changed regularly.

The use of microfiber pads for mopping is being adopted by many hospitals. Some studies have shown them to be more effective at microbial removal in certain situations. Since a new pad is used in each room, they also prevent the transfer of microbes between rooms.

Insufficient Contact Times for Disinfectants

EPA-registered disinfectants specify on thelabel the required contact time for properly disinfecting a surface. If disinfectants are wiped up before the required contact time has passed, complete disinfection may not have occurred, and cross contamination is possible. Hospitals should consider disinfectants that require shorter contact times, so they are more likely to be adhered to in a real-world environment.

Inadequate Cleaning Procedures

If a cleaning procedure is not sufficient in disinfecting a surface, studies have shown that the cloth used can transfer the contamination to other surfaces and the hand of the housekeeper. (One method for quantitatively determining the effectiveness of your hospitals cleaningprocedures is ATP monitoring.)

Incorrect Dilution of Cleaning Products

Disinfectants must be used as directed in order for them to adequately kill microbes. For some disinfectants, that means they should not be diluted at all. Others must be diluted precisely, as indicated by the manufacturer. Stock solutions that are stored for later use must also be handled as directed. Additionally, when solutions are prepared, common sources of contamination are the water and the container used.

Missed Critical Touch Points

Critical touch points, surfaces that are touched frequently, in the patient environment (such as blood pressure cuffs, bed rails and tables) can become contaminated and facilitate the spread of hospital acquired infections. EVS housekeepers should be trained to recognize and disinfect these touch points.

Learn More

Curious about how your EVS department is performing? Take a look at our EVS assessment.