Creativity before Capital

Want to stop disease from spreading? Open a window – Yahoo! News

What works best for stopping the spread of disease in a hospital?

  1. Negative pressure rooms (expensive, hard to maintain)
  2. Opening windows (cheap!)

The low-tech solution could help prevent the spread of airborne infections such as tuberculosis — and ironically, old-fashioned hospitals with high ceilings and big windows may offer the best design for this, they reported.

They worked better than modern “negative pressure” rooms, with expensive design aimed at pumping out infected air, the researchers report in the Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.

“Opening windows and doors maximizes natural ventilation so that the risk of airborne contagion is much lower than with costly, maintenance-requiring mechanical ventilation systems,” wrote Rod Escombe of Imperial College London and colleagues in their report.

“Old-fashioned clinical areas with high ceilings and large windows provide greatest protection. Natural ventilation costs little and is maintenance free,” they added.

It comes back to the Lean notion of using creativity before capital. I don’t think the windows even open at most “modern” hospitals, do they? So implementing that “cheap” solution might be somewhat expensive in a new place. It’s a much simpler idea, at least.

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

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