Signs Are Not Mistake-Proofing: Hospital Hallways Edition


As I posted recently on LinkedIn, here are some photos and a story from years ago.

Signs are not mistake-proofing. Signs are not adequate process controls.

“Please do not park stretchers or carts in the hallway.”

I'm quite certain that stretchers and carts are ALWAYS in this hospital hallway unless they know The Joint Commission is coming…


A smart-ass employee might say, “It's OK, we parked stretchers AND carts in the hallway, not OR.”

And to be clear, I'm not blaming the employees who placed the stretcher and carts there. They might not have enough “real” storage space or that space might not be the least bit convenient. The sign doesn't instruct anyone where TO park them.

This is a systemic problem.

The sign said nothing about stools and tables (or desks?):

Does your organization face this challenge? What can be done about it other than ensuring that proper (and convenient) storage space is available for such items?

You can also join the discussion on my LinkedIn post.

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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