The acute trust at the centre of a media storm over the use of “do not disturb” tabards during drug rounds has decided to remove the controversial wording from the garments.
East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust was criticised in several national newspapers by campaign group Patient Concern for the introduction of the bright red tabards for nurses to wear during drug rounds.
The tabards are used by a number of hospitals to minimise interruptions from staff and other patients and so reduce medication errors. However, Joyce Robins, a founder member of Patient Concern, told Nursing Times earlier this week that the tabards sent out the message that patients should not “bother” nurses, which she described as “completely wrong”.
But writing in next week’s Nursing Times, East Kent’s deputy chief nurse and head of quality Steve Hams says this perception is incorrect and the introduction of the tabards was “never about inhibiting the unique relationship nurses have with their patients”.
He says “despite the media furore”, nurses at the trust have found patients liked the red tabards, as “it tells them the most important aspects of their care are being delivered to the highest possible safety standards”.
However, Mr Hams says that, after trialling the tabards and listening to the “wide ranging commentary” on them over the past few days, the trust has decided to remove the phrase “do not disturb” to “make it clear we have never been more committed to doing the very best for our patients, to keep them safe with care and compassion”.
He adds: “Our introduction of the red tabards is related to a broader range of measures to improve safety, reliability, patient experience, staff satisfaction and efficiency of medicine management and has never been about inhibiting the unique relationship nurses have with their patients.
“Our frontline nurses have, like those all over the country, been developing innovative ways to improve safety as well as patient experiences and outcomes - it’s disheartening when the tabloids berate our profession.”