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Nurses develop disposable drug rounds tabards


Nurses have developed disposable drug rounds tabards that reduce errors, lower infection risk and cost 60% less.

Disposable tabards, developed by nurses and manufactured by GV health, are being introduced at a number of hospital trusts to minimise interruptions, reduce cross-infection risks and improve drug dispensing accuracy.

Reducing drug dispensing errors increases patient safety and reduces the cost and waste resulting from mistakes. Fewer interruptions also mean nurses can make more efficient use of their time.

Catherine Pegna, Managing Director of GV Health said “Reusable fabric drug round tabards currently used by some hospitals have been identified as a potential cross-infection risk particularly where time and financial restraints cause them to be used more than once without laundering. This has put nurses off using them and many hospitals have been looking for an alternative.

“We wanted to give nurses on drug rounds a safe way of putting up the ‘do not disturb ’ sign while saving nurse managers some money.”

The single size tabard can be adjusted to fit all shapes and builds and are suitable for use in all types of ward including general medical, surgical and SCBU.

In a recent survey, laundered tabards cost an average of 42 pence per use. Disposable tabards can cost from as little as 18 pence each, representing a saving of 60%.


Readers' comments (16)

  • Excellent idea however in practice what do you do if theres no other qualified available on a ward to answer what may be an important question? Staffing levels shouldnt be that low but often they can be.

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  • What a good idea! The disposable aprons reduce the risk of cross infection like Cdiff and Mrsa and can be thrown away after each use. Unlike the other aprons the nurses cant be sure if they have been washed properly after every shift so using disposable aprons for drug rounds is a fantastic idea. Bring them to the community hospitals its a good place to try them out.

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  • Nothing stops interruptions of drug rounds. One day a student was shadowing me on a drugs round she sad she counted 12 interruptions during just that particular round. I was called to the phone to talk to social workers, relatives and even ward matron. Doctors wanted to review charts and pharmacists wanted to check them. When there are no other trained staff on duty to answer these questions what do I do. One day my daughter called ward with an urgent message about her very sick son and was told I couldnt be interrupted as I was doing handover. It makes me angry that drugs cannot be started unless patients have all been washed amd got out of bed. I have brought this up at ward meetings many times but ward manager over rules this. Even doctors have sad its more important to have drugs on time than to get washed first. I feel liking Im banging my head against a brick wal here. By the tme I have argued with people about disrupting the drugs round I am even laeter completing it. I have to say I feel much of the problem is caused by low satffing levels

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  • I think the whole idea is a little redudant for the following reasons.

    1. Yes, doing the drugs can be annoying if people keep bothering you but at the same time simply telling people than you need to finish them or that you will finish them and attend to them next if possible is easier and free.

    2. Tabards that instruct people not to disturb you have no actual ability to make that situation real. People who need to speak to someone urgently other staff members, patients etc will all continue to talk to you and disturb you.

    3. Tabards don't remove you from the reality that you are often needed or called for at a moments notice thus they have no real use.

    4. Tabards give the wrong image; that being a walking sign saying DO NOT APPROACH ME!! kind of backfiring message there i think especially seeing as you generally are the most available person for the patients, staff and their relatives.

    5. Why is it taking you so long do a bays' drugs anyway? Some nurses take an hour to give out six peoples medication. this is really too long and why the slow dow happens. IF the patients see you trying to do it assertively they will give you space. but stroll in there and faff about and they'll think you've got time to waste.

    So don't hang around chatting on and fussing excessively. Get in and get out. they are all supposed to be having their tablets and IV's at roughly the same time so being over cautious and re-reading the drug chart endlessly isn't going to help you or them.

    Prioritizing the administration of drugs and time management is the issue here not whether wearing a tabard can conceal the problem that slow drug adminstration brings.

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  • Martin Gray

    What's wrong with just using the disposable plastic aprons that have been around for years? Why, all of a sudden, is it necessary to have some neon tabbard if it proves useless anyway? I just can't get my head round all these changes in how a ward functions with so few qualified staff.

    To me this is just a money spinner and not really necessary.

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  • I agree with most of jjjez comments.

    As someone who has represented RCN members at many disciplinary hearings between 1977 and 1991, it is true to say that in the majority of drug errors that occurred, interuption was the main precurser to the mistake being made.

    Having someone free to only undertake a drug round is essential, but even then with the way nursing care is organised these days, it will not stop interuptions, as patients will take the opportunity to raise issues of concerns with the nurse allocated their care on that day.

    In the distant past, almost everyone was directed to the ward sister or charge nurse, and they were rarely involved with drug administration in my experience.

    To protect patients from drug errors, all staff should be aware of the risks to patients if they interupted the actual dispensing of drugs so should refrain from doing so until that specific function has been completed.

    If interaction between nurse and patient occurs during the actual dispensing of the drug, then the nurse needs to stop think and check, as l am sure most nurses already do.

    No need for the disposable or any type of tabbards come to that!!

    Why not spend the money on a leaflet which is specifically designed to inform patients of the risks involved when discussing issues that may be concerning them, at the time a nurse is carrying out this important function.

    Isn't this really about communication or is it now tha case that nursing staff do not have the time to talk to patients, or am l being a cynic again!!

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  • neon aprons make the qualified nurse more visible and more likely to be interrupted on the drug round. It is also a huge topic for discussion by the patients themselves, causing further distraction.The drug trolley itself should be obvious enough to prevent an interruption from other members of staff during drug dispensing. The drug round is a time when patients do need to raise issues with the qualified nurse as there is limited time available for this during the shift as each patient has their moment when their drugs are dispensed. As Mr Langdon says, if an interruption of any kind occurs , stop, think, check, and check again to be sure of eliminating risk of error.

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  • As above- what about effective communication skills- at the heart of nursing surely? Common sense prevails. All the nurse doing the drugs needs to say is that "Iwill talk to you about this when I have finished- these medications have to be given at a certain time" if the query is drug related then iit's a good time to briefly chat, but a few patients asking and the message will soon get round. The nusre doing the drugs could just make a note in her book on the trolley of all the people she has to get back to and do it when she /he has finished. What have we all been doing but the above for years. Why do we suddenly need "Do not disturb me" tabards?
    If someone phones- they can phone back . if a dr needs to review a chart he/she could come to the trolley and discuss it if confidentially done. Assertiveness done graciously will save more money than these daft tabards!

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  • I aggre with most comment sposted, the tabbard will not hide the staff member it will highlight and make them stand out even more. I was a victim of a drug error and for which I was very upset over. I was very sorry for what I had done on a very under staffed ward, I apologised to all concerned at the time but felt I was being 'Blamed' constantly. I would like to know what happened to the 'NO BLAME CULTURE' in this instance I had NO support throughout and was told when I handed my notice in that I had wasted the tax payers money??? Even though I am a Practice Nurse now and feel that I help everyone who comes into my care.

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  • How nice - wear a hot sweaty red plastic bag while you do your medicine rounds!

    Just ask people to come back later/ tell them you will speak to them later

    And get on with the task in hand

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