I came across an article at cmmonline.com written by Tobi Colbert “Combating “Improvement Blindness”: Becoming blind to necessary improvements can hurt BSCs”. While the article focused on areas that are often overlooked such as fraying carpets, dirt building up in corners or dirty janitor closets within the building service contractors (BSCs) it made me pause. It made me rethink my approach, or the approach I could take from an education perspective when talking to people about the use of cleaners and disinfectants.
The author noted that people often get “comfortable” in their choices of product. We know that changing products, changing cleaning procedures, etc. is not easy. It’s time consuming. Some staff need more hand holding than others and some staff down right rebel! It can be easier to stay with a product we’ve been using for a long time because we feel we get good pricing, we know and like the sales rep and our staff do not complain. The “blindness” in this case is not being willing to look at new products and technologies that may improve the way of cleaning or decrease the time it takes to get the work done. That of course is the manager’s blindness.
Staff can also be blind. I had drinks with a friend this week and we were chatting about a situation she had with a facility. The manager had not been blind. The manager investigated and brought a new product in because of its attributes. The staff on the other hand….. Well there was a full blown rebellion in the works. My friend came in to talk with staff again and hear out their concerns. One very vocal person went on and on and on. Eventually the employee stopped, looked at my friend and said “you’re not going to help us get rid of this product are you”. My friend replied “no, the facility has chosen this product because of the attributes....” But before she could go any further the staff member turned on her heel and left. The employee was blind to considering a new product and blind to the reasons why the new product was chosen even when one of the attributes made the product safer to handle!
Conversely, there can be other forms of “blindness” when it comes to choosing a disinfectant. This one is, in my mind, far more dangerous. Unlike the above situation where the manager does not want to investigate or consider alternative products, the opposite situation is one where a manager is willing to try new products – particularly if they are trying to address a problem such as reoccurring outbreaks. In this case the need or want to address a singular concern often creates tunnel vision where the focus becomes looking for a product effective against “bug X” without taking into consideration other key considerations in choosing a disinfectant such as safety, compatibility, environmental profile, etc. The problem with this method of product selection is that you will end up with unintended consequences such as ruined surfaces or staff complaints.
Whether you have “blindness” due to disinterest in looking at new disinfectants or “blindness” towards the impact some disinfectants can have to your facility or staff, the end result is that improvement is important. Improving our lives and our patient’s or client’s lives is what we should continuously be striving for.