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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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VA Employee's Suggestion Brings Big Change in Patient Safety

April 7, 2008

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HOUSTON – Certified Nursing Assistant and U.S. Army veteran Charles Dougherty made a simple suggestion that turned into a major improvement in patient safety at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (MEDVAMC).

CleanCide Wipes™, a type of pre-moistened towelettes, are usually used to disinfect and clean surfaces such as tables, beds, and wheelchairs in health care settings. The wipes kill disease-causing bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, and salmonella plus viruses like Herpes, hepatitis B, influenza, and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).  They resemble baby wipes in size and are also packaged in a white tub-like container. The wipes are located in a bracket on the wall near the door in all patient rooms at the MEDVAMC.

While the wipes have a pleasing citrus scent, users are advised to avoid contact with eyes and skin, and use eye protection and gloves when handling.

Even though the tubs contained an appropriate warning label, Dougherty observed several family members using the wipes when leaving patients’ rooms. Nursing staff let visitors know the wipes were used to clean surfaces, and instead they should use soap and water or the readily available antimicrobial foam.

As the MRSA champion for Nursing Unit 2A, Dougherty reported what he saw at the weekly meeting of the MRSA Prevention Team. He suggested the company redesign the label to clarify the wipes should not be used on skin.  MRSA Prevention Coordinator Patricia A. Byers, R.M., M. (A.S.C.P.), C.I.C., contacted the company and reported the observations and suggestions.

The company agreed.  Increased awareness of the proper use of their product and the safety of all who come in contact with it was of utmost importance to them.  They quickly evaluated the suggestion and redesigned the label with more prominent and distinctive markings, easy to understand in both English and Spanish.

As a follow-up to Dougherty’s suggestion, the MEDVAMC placed signs to alert patients, visitors, and staff about the proper use of the CleanCide™ disinfectant wipes, to keep the cap closed, and to not use on eyes and skin.

“The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is proud to have employees like Mr. Dougherty who continuously strive to improve patient safety and provide the best care possible to our veterans,” said Medical Center Director Edgar L. Tucker, B.A., M.P.H., F.A.C.H.E.

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