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Keeping Personal Items with Patients

Dentures, eyeglasses, and jewelry.  Staff in patient units have seen inpatients lose these personal items and more.  Sometimes they’re left on food trays and removed by Food Services. Maybe they fall into the trash or sometimes accompany a patient to the OR, where they are removed and later reunited with their owner.

To address the wide array of reasons why patients lose personal belongings during a hospital stay, Al Black, HUP’s chief operating officer,  initiated a project with the Patient and Family Advisory Council.  Council members Peg Smith and Len Schultz met with nurse managers on each unit and with staff in the ER.  They reviewed patients’ hospital and emergency room stays from check-in to discharge.  They identified what was working and opportunities for improvement.  Smith and Schultz reviewed their findings with staff and found people receptive to their ideas.  For instance, when Food Service workers remove a patient’s tray, they now consistently check for personal items. 

Black shared the very positive outcomes of this project.  “Over a one-year period, our quarterly number of missing items went from 83 to 20, a 76% decrease for the year,” he said. “The Council’s role was instrumental.  Our staff valued the time spent with them and respected the feedback and ideas they received.  This is a strong example of how the Council can work with the hospital to improve the overall patient experience.”


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