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Archive June 2016 XVII, No. 6

Ideas That Work: Why Your Nurses Shouldn't Carry Tape on Their Person

sticky tape rolls CULTURE OF SAFETY If your nurses carry around sticky tape rolls, what else are they carrying around?

Why Your Nurses Shouldn't Carry Tape on Their Person

Ever taken a close look at the rolls of surgical adhesive tape your nurses carry around to secure patients' dressings? Pretty disgusting, right? The sticky sides collect lint and hair and who knows what other contaminants as they travel from case to case, and even from facility to facility, in their scrub pockets or hanging from their stethoscopes. But it's hardly cost-effective to make every roll of tape a single-use roll. So, after reading an AORN Journal examination of the infection risks of reusing rolls, we conducted our own study.

We numbered 22 rolls of tape and put them to use in the usual locations: some of them in OR case carts, some in the supply drawers in same-day surgery's post-op rooms and some on nurses' stethoscopes. Our in-house lab cultured the rolls after 5 and 8 days. Microbial growth on the OR and post-op rolls was insignificant. But it was higher on the tape that RNs were carrying around with them. While the lab's analysis concluded that the microbial levels weren't potential sources of surgical site infections, and suggested that tape rolls could safely be used until they ran out, it taught us that nurses shouldn't carry tape on their person. Leave the rolls in the nearby drawer until you need them, or else switch to tape-free dressings.

Denise Folmar, MSN, RN, CNOR
Susquehanna Health
Williamsport, Pa.

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