Mistakeproofing Flu Season

Improvement Insights Blog

Mistakeproofing Flu Season

A couple of years ago, in spite of vaccinations, I got the flu and it turned into pneumonia. Here’s what I do to prevent infections.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur. A couple years ago, in spite of my flu vaccine and my pneumonia vaccine, I first got the flu, and then that developed into pneumonia, and then I had to spend five days in the hospital… that was not fun, all right? After that I thought, “Hmmm, maybe I should change how I do things, right? How can I keep these things that get near my nose and my mouth away from me?

“In our little building, we’re on the fifth floor and there’s a pediatrician on the third floor. Every day moms and dads come in with their sick little kids and the sick little kids push the UP button and then they get on the elevator they push the 3 button. Then when they’re coming down, they push the 1 button to go back down to the lobby… and so those little buttons are a hot zone. So I decided, “Well, I’ll just start using this little knuckle on my hand to hit all those buttons,” because that’s about as far away from my face as I can get. So I can’t possibly infect myself too easily, right?

“We were at the IHI conference and one of the doctors came up and she started to move to shake my hand, and then she said, “You know, wait… it’s flu season. Let’s do an elbow bump, or let’s do a fist bump.” So we’re not doing the touchings of people who’ve coughed or not… And please: cover your nose and mouth if you’re coughing or sneezing. Just do that, that’d be good for everyone else, all right?

“So those are some tools: can you lean against the door to open it instead of pushing it with your hand? What can you do to keep these things out of harm’s way so that you don’t transfer those viruses to your nose and mouth? That might help you stay well.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week: Take care of yourself… so you can go out and improve something this week.”