In hospital cases where a serious infection is present the current requirement is patient isolation. For any medical personnel or family to enter the isolation environment, they must don paper or plastic gowns and gloves, and in some cases masks and shoe covers, all of which are disposable and not meant for more than single use. Now your everyday use duct tape is being used in red to keep families and personnel a safe distance from patients so they do not have to re-gown and scrub each time they visit the sick.
With many infections, such as C. diff, there is a minimum isolation time of several weeks which can be painstaking and tedious for caretakers. C. diff is very contagious. Hand washing is the thing to pay attention to when leaving a C. diff room. Hot water and alcohol based sanitizers are no good. The motion of hand washing is what kills it. Wash long and hard with warm water for example or simply do not come in direct contact.
The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) commissioned a study to corner off a three foot perimeter around the bed of patients in isolation. Medical personnel could enter the room unprotected if they stayed outside the perimeter. Direct patient contact or presence inside the perimeter meant a redo of the cleansing process. The concept, called “Red Box” employs red duct tape, a color used as it provides a strong visual reminder to those who enter the room to be aware.
The study found that 33% of all who entered the rooms could do so without the addition of gowns and gloves, saving the environment, hospital and patient costs, and time without compromising the patient or the medical personnel.
Duct tape has several other medically practical uses as well. Recent medical studies have found that duct tape may be an effective treatment against plantar warts. Some patients with plantar warts applied pieces of duct tape to the wart each day. The warts were effectively treated in 85% of cases, making a strong argument for duct tape being a more effective treatment than the standard practice of freezing the wart with liquid nitrogen.
Duct tape makes an effective suture in a crisis situation. Duct tape functions as a temporary suture, closing the wound until better medical care may be administered. In the Forbes’ article, “The Other Greatest Tools Ever,” David M. Ewalt describes the medical properties of duct tape:
“Some emergency medical technician handbooks even describe how to use duct tape to close up sucking chest wounds like gunshots.”
Duct tape was also used by the Apollo 13 astronauts in their near fatal moon mission. According to Octanecreative.com, a site using information gathered from NASA’s own records, the astronauts used the tape to create air scrubbers for their weakened oxygen supply, which kept the men alive long enough to engineer a rescue.