Mnemonic Tool Helps HCWs with Donning and Doffing PPE


Annual competencies come and annual competencies go while each member of the nursing staff remains competently employed for at least one more year.

By Susan E. Sammons, RN

Annual competencies come and annual competencies go while each member of the nursing staff remains competently employed for at least one more year. As the hurried December season closes, so do the pressures of mandatory exams. Those 15 or more tests become a distant memory that staff knows will haunt them once again come next Halloween. But for the moment, the Education Department is satisfied and we can get on with providing our TLC.

Much of what we do is inherent of the trade, continually intensified by the educational process...

We wash our hands, never flutter the sheets, inject and insert as instructed.

We check expirations, avoid complications, then suddenly life is disrupted.

Joint Commission is coming, the state will inspect... "are we ready or not?" is the mantra.

Those competent nurses who "Did It Their Way" cant count on a quote from Sinatra.

Urgently our superiors denote the pending areas of concern as the state predications are defined. In other words, we are informed of who is coming, approximately when they are coming and what their specific focus will be this year. Of course we brush up on our competencies in preparation and certainly we pass inspection because we care. But do we actually deliver that level of excellence on a daily basis? Ask a nurse to recite and perform every institutional standard 100 percent of the time. Since nothing less is expected, success implies we need to do more.

Federal and state agencies regulate specific processes established through evidence-based research to achieve positive progress in healthcare outcomes. Diligence prevails within facilities to reduce healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and errors. Creative measures are replacing conventional methods in the areas of education and monitoring employee conduct.

"Snapshot buddies" may sporadically witness erroneous behavior and serve as an on-the-spot resource to amend shortcut practices among their peers. Employee recognition and rewards for improved wellness ratings are commonly incorporated as incentives. Public awareness campaigns and mandates to publish patient outcomes provide communities with an enhanced awareness and heightened expectation of performance. Shared governance and quality improvement committees convene to petition participation from every discipline within an organization. Unique solutions are attainable where autonomy is prudently nurtured.

One such solution is a mnemonic tool that defines the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) process for donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) in isolation rooms. This recent development has been utilized at the Bacharach Institute for Rehabilitation in Pomona, N.J. As a staff RN at Bacharach, I became aware of a deficiency among co-workers to readily remember the precise sequence. With the approval of administration, I posted a comprehensive memory graphic on each PPE dispenser and supplied my colleagues with badge cards for rapid recall. The appealing display educates patients and visitors, and casts a positive light within the hospital marking a standard of excellence as a primary goal. I have found it extremely rewarding to experience an applaudable response for my creation as we collectively strive to eliminate patient complications within our control.

The PPE mnemonic may be viewed at:

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