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Ideas That Work
Purple scrubs
OSD Staff
Publish Date: December 1, 2008   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work

Not long ago, only the OR staff wore surgical scrubs. Nowadays, it seems like most of the hospital staff is wearing scrubs — clinical and non-clinical staff alike, in and out of the facility, even at the diner across the street. Here at Beth Israel Medical Center, we've come up with a simple solution to help ensure that our 31 ORs remain sterile: All the staff in the OR, and only the OR staff, wear purple scrubs. The idea is to make it easy to tell if a surgical staffer wanders out of the OR. We've even instructed our security guards not to let anybody in purple scrubs enter or exit the building. We picked purple for two reasons. One, blue and green scrubs are worn throughout many other areas of the hospital. And two, we asked our nurses what color they liked best: Purple won out. Purple scrubs have become special, only for the privileged few who work in the OR. (Vendors in the OR wear disposable dark blue scrubs.)

Donald M. Kastenbaum, MD
Vice Chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery
Beth Israel Medical Center
New York, N.Y.
[email protected]

The Power of Parental Presence at Induction
Reducing the anxiety of pediatric patients is an essential part of our care, and what's more comforting than a squeeze from Mom or Dad? We've recently invited parents to accompany their children into the OR and remain with them during anesthesia induction. The program demands a great deal of coordination between surgical staff, anesthesia providers and facility volunteers.

  • Get the word out. Inform parents that one parent can escort their child to the OR when you meet with them during pre-op anesthesia assessments, and include an information handout in admission packets. Establish inclusion criteria such as children over the age of one year, children who are medically stable and children who are scheduled for elective surgery.
  • Prep children and families. Focus on preparing children at an age-appropriate level for what they will see, hear and experience in the OR. Reinforce parents' supporting role in the OR. Encourage parents to talk, sing or hold hands as their children fall asleep. Let parents know that crying is a natural reaction to stress. Reassure them that their presence will make the process smoother for the whole family. Also be sure to inform parents that watching their children fall asleep under anesthesia will be different from what they're used to seeing at home.
  • Escort the escorts. Our hospital's volunteers accompany the patients' parents into the OR and dress them in downgraded gowns, masks, surgical caps and shoe covers. The volunteers focus solely on the parents, guiding them to the OR and telling them where to stand. Volunteers are well trained and are aware that watching children head into surgery can be upsetting for parents. When parents leave the OR, the volunteers might offer a shoulder to cry on or a few reassuring words. We're lucky to be on the receiving end of the gratitude parents express for accompanying their child into the OR.

Leigh Johnson
Child Life Specialist
Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario
Ottawa, Canada
[email protected]

Publish Your Own Facility Newsletter
To improve communication between physicians, RNs, CNAs, med techs and ancillary staff in a busy GI center, I created a bi-weekly newsletter, The Endo Times.

The one-page publication began in May 2008 as a list of birthdays, introductions of new employees and a feature on Joint Commission National Patient Safety Goals (NPSG). Response was overwhelmingly positive. People wanted to know when the next issue would be published.

The newsletter has become more sophisticated as I've become more techno-savvy. In addition to the NPSG feature, we've run a "Prep School" column with reviews of colon preps; "Colon College" with an overview of bowel disorders; "Gut Words" with definitions of GI-specific terminology; and "In the Spotlight," which focuses on different departments. Most recently, we featured our reprocessing techs. Mixed in with technical articles are short blurbs about upcoming activities, fire safety and staff "shout outs" for those who've gone above and beyond. Sometimes, I include quizzes or activities that require staff to respond in order to earn small prizes.

I spend four to six hours researching, editing and proofing each issue. The stories are short and, whenever possible, amusing. I print on brightly colored paper and hand out copies to every employee and physician.

Michelle Sparrow, BSN, RN
Clinical Educator
Pennsylvania Hospital Gastrointestinal Associates
Washington Square Endoscopy Center
Philadelphia, Pa.

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