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Innovation Abounds in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit

Innovation abounds on the seventh floor of the North Pavilion. Here, in the surgical intensive care unit (SICU), several exciting projects have been launched—with support from the UAB Innovation Board—with the goal of increasing quality, safety, patient engagement, and patient satisfaction.

“The UAB Innovation Board has the goal of promoting a culture of innovation," says Bill Curry, MD Chair of the Innovation Board. "Our SICU is one of the best examples of how well that works to improve quality and safety for very complex patients. The entire staff and leadership of SICU are amazing in their commitment. We’re looking for ideas like these from anybody and everybody in UAB Medicine.”

“The SICU has a large number of nurses involved in the clinical ladder program (PNDP) and the SICU Quality Council,” says Cheri Plasters, BSN, CCRN, CSRN, PNDP III. “In this group, great ideas have bloomed. We hope to continue to have more projects develop for quality improvements as the bar for outcomes continues to rise.”

The drive to innovate “trickles down from [Chief Nursing Officer] Velinda Block and through her vision for nursing,” Plasters adds. “Our physicians are also very, very collaborative and stimulating. We appreciate the  Innovation Board and how they have supported ideas in SICU that have intentionally driven quality improvements.”

The SICU currently has four innovation grants underway. Discover more about these exciting initiatives, and remember that you can give your innovative ideas wings by   applying for an innovation grant.  

1. Proventix, an electronic hand hygiene monitoring project, launched in the SICU last summer. The six-month pilot was sponsored by funding from the UAB Innovation Board and an initiative from Alabama Power called Putting Power Into Healthcare. Proventix uses a technology that tracks each employee’s hand washing activity with an aim to improve hygiene compliance and reduce the spread of healthcare-associated infections. The UAB SICU recently learned it was the top ICU in the nation for Proventix usage.  Learn more about Proventix.  

2. The Blue Curtain Project is an effort to increase compliance and awareness of contact precautions in the SICU. Contact precautions include practicing proper hand hygiene and wearing gloves and a gown, and are necessary when the risk of infection is high. In the Blue Curtain Project, each patient room that requires contact precautions has a blue curtain hanging in front of the door, as well as a small poster that says “Stop, Hand Hygiene, Yellow Gown, and Gloves Are Required to Enter Rom.”

3. CommuniCARE facilitates communication with and engagement of patients with the use of two devices. With Innovation Board funds, the SICU purchased five LCD tablets, which can be written on by patients who are unable to speak, and two iPads, on which patients can communicate their pain level via an app created at UAB. The app was developed by UAB Health System Information Services (HSIS) and allows patients to communicate their level and location of pain. 

4. Evidence-Based Practice: Modeled Performance Videos will help teach interns and nurses the correct, step-by-step process of central line placement and site care. The videos are a collaboration between the SICU, students and faculty from UAB’s Media Studies program, HSIS, and Information Technology.