At any given time during their hospital stay, a patient encounters several caregivers. Most hospitals have nurses, patient care technicians, dietary staff, housekeeping, hospitalists, residents, and physicians, case managers, social workers, physical therapists and many more. Most institutions have name badges and require employees to wear them at all times so that the patient is aware of who is caring for them. However, the current name badges used at this institution are fairly small and the writing is not very illegible, or they are flipped over or covered by lab coats or sweaters. This is a disadvantage to patients who have cognitive disabilities, elderly patients as well as those patients who do not speak English.
How many times to patients ask the respiratory therapist who happens to be wearing a lab coat about their health issues, because they look like a doctor wearing a white lab coat? Or ask the dietary aid who walks into the room with an IPAD about their pain medication? This could pose an increased risk to patients if they happen to relay an issue about a serious health concern to the wrong team member just because they were wearing scrubs. With this in mind, I would like to propose a color-coded uniform system for staff to help patients with this problem.
The target population for this recommendation would be all employees within the institution. This process also targets the patients, families and visitors, as they are the ones who stand to benefit the most. The best way to go about this would be to put together a team or committee to carry out a survey throughout the hospital to get a feel of what the employees and patients think about the idea. They should also provide suggestions as to what colors they would choose if they had to wear a uniform. The idea is to use a different color for different departments throughout the hospital. In a survey conducted by Lange, (2002), out of 100 patients, 28% could not differentiate between their nurse and UAP. 15% identified their UAP as their nurse. 59% could not identify their nurse by a list of names.
Benefits Of The Program
Some of the benefits of a dress code in the hospital include; standard dress code helps the patient differentiate between different staff members such as the nurses, lab technicians, doctors etc. It helps the facility feel and look professional increasing the patient’s confidence while giving the company an elegant image. It is very difficult for patients to remember different names and faces. Giving them a point of references, which are color-coded scrubs, will help them make the differences (nursinguniforms.net 2014).
This quality improvement plan will prove to be costly at first when the changes are implemented, but will improve customer satisfaction, which in turn boosts profits. The best way to approach the situation is for the organization to partner up with a uniform company and create a reasonable and affordable contract to manufacture uniforms and sell them at reasonable prices that the staff can afford. Initially the company may have to provide two or three pairs of uniforms to each staff member and from then on, the staff will be responsible for buying their own.
This will make the changing process much easier, because one of the reasons that staff members will come up with to resist the change, will be that they do not have extra money in their budgets to buy new uniforms when they already have plenty of scrubs. In the beginning, this process can be implemented only in departments that deal with direct patient care such as nurses, PCTs, lab technicians, orderlies, unit secretaries and physical therapy. The type of fabric used will also factor into the cost. The uniforms must be comfortable, easy to clean and appropriate for the job title. After implementation, every new employee will be notified of the dress code and given instructions on how to order them. The hospital might also have to incur the cost of possibly losing staff members who would rather leave then follow the new rules. These costs include new hire orientation, using agency employees or paying overtime for others to cover those shifts. (Ragan 2012)
The best way to evaluate this quality improvement measure would be to perform patient satisfaction surveys. One method is by using short questionnaires that can be included in the welcome packet that each patient gets on admission. The members of the committee would have to be responsible for collecting those questionnaires and evaluating the responses. Another was is to have the patient representative visit patients during their hospital stay and get their opinion about what they think of the uniform dress code. It would also be important to get input from staff members as well. Staff members should be educated on the reasoning behind the initiative, and their understanding of it can be assesses by asking questions, also having them fill questionnaires and having meetings to evaluate their responses.
Nursinguniforms.net, 2014. A nurse’s world. Retrieved from www.nursinguniforms.net Lange, J., 2002. Patient identification of caregivers’ titles: do they know who you are? Retrieved from www. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov Ragan, E. 2012. Uniform expert talks about dress code implementation and cost. Retrieved from www.semissourian.com