Web site spotlight: Sight gags abound in patient safety 'room of horrors'

Nurse Leader Insider, June 15, 2009

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Propped up on a pillow, wearing a baseball hat and a pink cast on his ankle, the patient is perfectly still, unmoving as nurses and other staff members walk through jotting notes on identical forms. Tucked between the patient's lips is ... an unlit cigarette.

Fortunately, the patient is made out of rubber and plastic.

This was just one detail among dozens used for a training exercise in a mocked up "hospital room of horrors" at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Erie, PA, explains Jean Tauber, FACHE, director of performance improvement, risk manager, and patient safety officer.

The exercise was part of the hospital's patient safety awareness week.

"Nurses created the room-volunteers," says Tauber. "Night shift nurses volunteered. Getting staff involved made the creation of the room as much an exercise as having staff run through."

The exercise centered on educating staff about various patient safety topics such as dietary dangers.

"We included food allergies, expired milk cartons," says Tauber. "You'd need to look at the patient information board to learn that the patient was NPO, and yet there was a tray of food for the patient."

Less subtle but also challenging items included outdated inspection stickers on hair dryers.

"We wanted to appeal to everyone that you may not have hands-on patient care, but you care for patients," says Tauber.

Editor's note: This excerpt was adapted from the article, "Sight gags abound in patient safety room of horrors" featured in The Reading Room on HCPro's online resource center,

Do you need continuing education (CE) credits? Check out this month's CE article to find out how one health system lowered ventilator-associated pneumonia rates with an eICU or visit our archives and view a compilation of CE articles (marked with an asterisk).

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