Implementation of standardized color-coded isolation signs at a teaching hospital and their effect on compliance with isolation precautions

Biomed Sci Instrum. 2014:50:353-60.


Issue: In an effort to increase knowledge regarding infection prevention and compliance with isolation precautions among our staff in a 722 bed tertiary referral teaching hospital, we created a standardized color-coded isolation signs.

Project: Different versions of isolation precaution signs existed at our institution. Concerns in regards to these signs included being in a neutral color and easily overlooked, providing insufficient information regarding isolated pathogen, ignoring appropriate isolation garb, and technique required for performing hand hygiene. This led to the creation of a standardized signage throughout the institution. Signs were color-coded, with each color representing a common pathogen requiring isolation. Such a system allowed us to maintain patient confidentiality. Pocket references explaining the coding system, as well as cards that would adhere to personal identification badges were provided to care providers. the reason for isolation. Staff was no longer required to reference the patient’s chart to discern the reason for isolation, which saved time. Housekeeping could immediately discern appropriate needs in cleaning and disinfection. Our rate of compliance with isolation precautions was maintained in the ninetieth percentile. A Lesson Learned: Communication and cooperation amongst healthcare workers were essential keys in problem solving and served to increase both staff and patient safety and increase the knowledge and comfort level with the infection control practices and guidelines. The process was driven by frontline care providers and, as such, led to immediate uptake and likely improved adherence.