Standard work for room entry: Linking lean, hand hygiene, and patient-centeredness

Healthc (Amst). 2016 Mar;4(1):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2015.12.008. Epub 2016 Jan 11.


Background: Healthcare-associated infections are costly and fatal. Substantial front-line, administrative, regulatory, and research efforts have focused on improving hand hygiene.

Problem: While broad agreement exists that hand hygiene is the most important single approach to infection prevention, compliance with hand hygiene is typically only about 40%(1).

Goals: Our aim was to develop a standard process for room entry in the intensive care unit that improved compliance with hand hygiene and allowed for maximum efficiency.

Strategy: We recognized that hand hygiene is a single step in a substantially more complicated process of room entry. We applied Lean engineering techniques to develop a standard process that included both physical steps and also standard communication elements from provider to patients and families and created a physical environment to support this.

Results: We observed meaningful improvement in the performance of the new standard as well as time savings for clinical providers with each room entry. We also observed an increase in room entries that included verbal communication and an explanation of what the clinician was entering the room to do.

Implications: The design and implementation of a standardized room entry process and the creation of an environment that supports that new process has resulted in measurable positive outcomes on the medical intensive care unit, including quality, patient experience, efficiency, and staff satisfaction. Designing a process, rather than viewing tasks that need to happen in close proximity in time (either serially or in parallel) as unrelated, simplifies work for staff and results in higher compliance to individual tasks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cross Infection / prevention & control
  • Guideline Adherence*
  • Hand
  • Hand Disinfection
  • Hand Hygiene*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Hygiene
  • Infection Control
  • Intensive Care Units
  • Patient-Centered Care*