Blockages are a problem, there’s no question. Their knock-on impact on staff is evident.
The increased time drain on either manually cleaning bedpans or using an alternative sluice/dirty utility room elsewhere in the facility increases over time tasks naturally get backed up.
There is also an increased risk of infection to clinicians as they are inevitably exposed to the infectious material for longer either through being in a contaminated space or through spending longer periods of time handling the pulp utensils.
Then there’s the cost in time and money for the inevitable repair and decontamination of the sluice/dirty utility room. This ignores the potential cost from increased incidents of sickness too.
It can quickly escalate into a logistical and HR nightmare.
But what about the impact all this has on patients?
First it’s important to realise when clinicians are under strain patients pick up on it. Whether they are in hospital for a routine op, an illness or recovering from a severe accident, they are anxious, unsettled and in quite a lot of cases in considerable pain.
No matter how hard they try to hide it, a Clinician under stress can inadvertently make things worse simply because they are trying to fulfil their duties with less time to do it.
Care, at this point, can suffer. Tasks can get forgotten or pushed down the priority list as the day-to-day running of the ward stalls as clinicians struggle to recover the (statistical) 10 hours the ward will have lost by the end of the day.
That’s assuming that there is another sluice/dirty utility room within a reasonable distance. If not then bedpans could be piling up on counters or being washed manually.
This is bad news for patients for two simple reasons.
1. A sluice/dirty utility room full of soiled bedpans or manually cleaned bedpans puts clinicians at far greater risk of infection. Clinicians become vectors for anything harmful and as they go about their duties inadvertently putting patients at risk.
2. Less obvious but just as serious: if there are insufficient bedpans because they can’t be cleaned fast enough or clinicians are off the ward for extended periods of time whilst they go to an alternative sluice/dirty utility room, there’s an increased chance of patients soiling themselves.
This has a huge impact on the dignity of the patient as we’ve discussed previously, but soiled bed clothes, soiled sheets and potentially a contaminated floor puts patients and clinicians at further risk.
This now presents clinicians with a new point of potential infection that has to be decontaminated increasing their work load and absorbing more time.
Plus, when the situation reaches the point of inadequate provision or care, becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What can be done?
Whatever the role of a clinician, they shoulder a great deal of responsibility. It is their job to keep patients safe, happy and well or improving at the very least.
When clinicians are forced to spend time carrying out extended or additional duties, the level of care begins to suffer.
Whilst all good facilities have an infection control strategy and contingencies built into it, prevention – as with healthcare – is always preferable, easier and cheaper than cure.
Most blockages occur through incorrect use and poor maintenance. Planned preventative maintenance should be part of your infection control strategy.
Regularly maintained machines are less likely to experience mechanical failures of blockages. This maximises uptimes and reduces risks to clinicians and patients.
Sometimes it is simply a case of inadequate training. Up-skilling your team through in-house training or video guides on the correct use of the machines is a cost effective and straight forward process that will yield long term benefits and extend the life of your equipment.
For more information on DDC Dolphin’s sluice/dirty utility room solutions, training services, videos or guidance material contact us today.