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Downstate Times

The Newsletter for SUNY Downstate
University Hospital of Brooklyn

Improving Patient Satisfaction by Keeping
Property Safe

By Dianne Forbes Woods RN, MA, NE-BC
Deputy Nursing Director


woman standing in front of poster

Pauline Skeen, BSN, RN, shown presenting at the AONE Annual Meeting on protecting patients' property.

Admission to a hospital can be a stressful time for patients and their families. During hospitalization, patients expect a safe and secure environment and that their belongings will be protected during their stay.

Keeping patients' belongings safe from loss or damage can be a challenge for healthcare staff due to the movement of patients during their stay and their natural reluctance to hand over personal items for safekeeping. But when personal property is lost or misplaced, it can be a major source of patient dissatisfaction and staff frustration.

In early 2012, the staff of Nursing Station 71/73 decided to tackle this problem head on. They initiated a pilot project to color-code different sections of the patient property form, trained staff on how to maintain the safes securely, and oriented all new patients on the use of the safes. In addition, the nursing staff initiated a property reconciliation process for all patients admitted or transferred to their unit that now requires the signature of two nurses on the property form.

Since May 2012, when the new procedures and form were introduced, through December 31, 2012, there have been no patient complaints of lost property. Jacqueline Harry MSN , RN, assistant director of nursing, states that the staff quickly "bought in" to the new procedures and is very proactive in protecting patients' property. Plans are underway to implement the changes hospital-wide.

Nurses Rhone Hewitt, MSN , RN, and Pauline Skeen, BSN , RN, on NS 71/73 presented a poster describing this project at the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE ) Center for Care Innovation and Transformation Annual Meeting in October 2012.