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Lean Healthcare: Protecting Yourself in the Hospital

2 – Your health

You have to scroll down to see this on USA Today's site, so here's the whole article with my commentary. The idea of taking a water gun into your hospital room with you seems funny, if not crazy! I wonder how your nurses would view that?

Hospital ‘survival kit' will get you noticed

Physician and author Bernie Siegel endorsed the idea that patients and their families need to watch out for their safety in hospitals (Sept. 19 column). “I tell people to take a ‘Siegel kit' to the hospital and teach them survival behavior. The kit contains a noisemaker, magic marker and water gun.

“The noisemaker is used to avoid (an) hour of uninterrupted silence after pressing the call button. …

[This is a type of “andon” signal that screams out that you need assistance?]

The magic marker is used to write ‘cut here, and not this one, stupid' on your body pre-operatively.

[This is some nice, simple, easy, cheap, and effective error proofing!]

The water gun is used to drench those who do not respect your needs or privacy when your door is closed for meditation or family time.”

[I can't draw a lean parallel here!]

A registered nurse in New Orleans, Erin Griffin, pointed out that family members can't always be with patients in the hospital: “I agree that when possible you should stay with your loved one 24/7, but this is rarely possible in the ER, pre-op or recovery area, or in the ICU. The reasons vary but mainly are related to space and that families tend to disrupt or hamper the functioning of the health care area.”

Griffin adds that, in her experience, hospital errors often are a result of understaffing: “When the patient-to-nurse ratio is high (one nurse to too many patients), mistakes ultimately happen.”

[As with manufacturing quality, most healthcare quality errors are systemic in nature.]

More information on this topic is available from the National Patient Safety Foundation at

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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. 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 book is the anthology 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. He is currently writing his next book, tentatively titled Measures of Success.

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