Ask the Care Expert about... labeling clean equipment

Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA

We are changing the system of how we mark clean equipment in storage and residents' rooms. Currently, we have a plastic bag over the items, and through training everyone knows these are the clean items. We have a new director of nursing and she wants the system changed to blue tape for dirty and tan tape for clean. Any suggestions?

My first reaction would be to ask: Is the current system not working? If it is not working, why not? Have you not trained everyone, or not reinforced what your plastic bag of clean versus dirty means? Or are you changing with no real reason to change except a new staff member/manager?

At times, this is one of our biggest flaws in healthcare: We change because something did not work once, or we received one deficiency, or we have a new leader who likes another system. 

We need to remember that this system is in place to serve a purpose: to know if a piece of equipment is clean or dirty before using it. The system is not in place because a manager happens to like blue tape versus plastic bags.

I must caution you: If you put sticky tape on equipment, you might need to buy stock in adhesive remover. 

If your current system is working, why change it? If it is working but there was one slip, then retrain those involved for causing the break in procedure. Training held one time six months ago is probably not enough. 

Consider perhaps a thinner or larger plastic bag (dry cleaner bag thickness) if the bag is hard to see through or is not large enough for some of your bigger equipment.

Don't change an entire policy  without good cause. Keep the goal of the procedure, which is to have the best possible care for our residents.