One way to turn the Patient Safety Goals into fun games

Accreditation Connection, July 30, 2004

Atlantic City Medical Center in Pomona, NJ, pulled out all the stops during its patient safety fair last year. Clinical education staff worked for weeks to turn a cafeteria and conference room into a circus-like atmosphere, complete with clowns, music, popcorn, and candy.Staff from different departments volunteered to host carnival "booths." Each booth highlighted one of the JCAHO's National Patient Safety Goals.

"Staff volunteers were asked to make the experience fun and to communicate the intent of each National Patient Safety Goal," says Grissel Hernandez, RN, BSN, MPH, a clinical education coordinator who worked with more than 15 others to plan and produce the event at two different campuses.

Upon entering the carnival, participants received a coupon that listed each of the six Patient Safety Goals (the JCAHO added a seventh goal on January 1). The coupon was stamped each time they visited a different booth. Once they received all six stamps, their coupon was entered into a raffle for a 24-inch color television.

Each booth used a different theme to promote its goal. One used Disney's Toy Story character Buzz Lightyear to promote Goal #2, which stresses the importance of communication among caregivers, says Angela Migliaccio, RN, the clinical project coordinator who staffed it. Using the slogan, "Buzz Lightyear: Taking communication to infinity and beyond," the booth included information about effective communication techniques and featured a toy cell phone that spoke the words "I am an effective communicator" each time it rang.

The booth also featured a game called "The Buzz Lightyear spin," in which players spun a dial and answered the question it landed on. If they answered correctly they received a stamp, candy, and a Pizza Hut gift card. For example, one question asked for the proper way to abbreviate "unit," while another asked about the hospital's process for documenting a critical test value.

Hernandez's booth emphasized the hospital's infection control procedures. Calling themselves the "Germ Busters," Hernandez and an infection control nurse dressed up as Batman and Batgirl and passed out a "Superhero Handbook" that highlighted some of the hospital's infection control policies. The handbook began, "You have been selected to an elite group of superheroes. Your goal is to protect yourself and patients from the evils of infection."

After reading the short handbook, participants played a game called "Can of Worms," in which they reached into a can and pulled out a paper worm. Each worm presented a question about a different infection control policy, such as handwashing, fingernail care, and skin preparation. Players who answered correctly received candy, pens, and free samples of the hospital's hand lotion. "If they didn't know the answer, I would tell them," says Hernandez, who made her Batgirl costume for about $25.

Cost: The fair cost about $1,000, says Hernandez.

Result: About 200 people attended, including physicians, nurses, housekeeping staff, patients, and administrators, says Migliaccio.


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