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Everything Is the Same,
For a Change
When Rush University Medical Center set out to transform itself for the future, it began with a guiding set of principles. One of the tenets of change was this: Whenever possible, make things the same.
"Early conversations about the Rush Transformation, our decade-long redevelopment plan, focused on how standardization would improve patient safety and quality of care," says Anthony Perry, MD, a geriatrician and clinical transformation officer at Rush.
All things being equal
Efficiency and safety were foremost in the minds of planners as they created standardized designs for hospital rooms, including critical care rooms, acute care rooms, neonatal intensive care rooms, and preparation and recovery rooms. Unlike traditional hospital rooms, which are often a reverse image of one another, the new versions are identical to the other rooms of the same type.
That means the bed is in the same place in each room; storage cabinets, electrical outlets and hookups are always found in standard locations. Standardized grab bars appear on the walls of the rooms to help patients get safely from the bed to the bathroom without falls.
All equipment is located in set areas. That includes hand-sanitizer dispensers, which are placed where it is easiest for staff to see and use them. This increases the number of times staff sanitize their hands — which can decrease hospital infections.
The new rooms were even designed to ensure that when doctors enter, they flow naturally to the patient's right side. In medical school, doctors are trained to perform exams from the right side, so carrying them out this way comes more naturally. "You get better clinical results when you can do a better exam," Perry says.
Standardization helps staff feel more comfortable and confident when they enter the room because they know exactly where everything is located.
"That means the only variable in the room is the patient, and that is where all the staff's focus will be," Perry says.
Practice makes perfect
It took many months of planning and hard work to reach that goal. The process included testing the spaces to make certain they would work in real-world conditions.
Room models were built so staff could practice performing their jobs in realistic situations. Modifications of things as varied as doorways and dialysis hookups resulted from these practice runs.
Even the furniture was shifted around following the tests. All of these changes were made with the same purpose in mind.
"Standardization maximizes the safety of the environment that we are building for patients," Perry says. "For Rush, safety is a profoundly important topic."
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