Three steps to help avoid patients belongings going missing

11th Oct 2019

A common and challenging theme running across hospitals in the UK are patients belongings going missing. This can be a difficult issue to overcome as patients move across different wards with different procedures for possessions. Patients often place items they use regularly in places such as under their pillow so they can access them easily however this can result in them getting wrapped up in their bedding that then gets sent to the laundry.

Some belongings, however, are of greater importance and enable a patient to function on the most basic level such as glasses, hearing aids and dentures. If a patient no longer has access to any of these key items it can cause problems such as not being able to fully understand what doctors and nurses are telling them, feeling isolated and risk of malnutrition due to not being able to eat properly. All of these issues slow down recovery and cause the patient distress.

The other side of this to consider is also the financial cost to the hospital to replace these items. It has been reported in previous years that over £10,000 a week has been paid out just from hospitals in England alone to reimburse patients for their lost belongings.

What can be done to change this?

This is an issue that has been highlighted many times with lots of discussion about various procedures that can be put in place to help avoid this from happening.

Here are steps your team can take to reduce the risk of losing a patient’s belongings:

1 – Personal Belongings Tray Valet with Lid

This tray has been designed for the storage of glasses, hearing aids and dentures. This makes it easy for both staff and patients to keep track of some of their most vital belongings as everything has its own designated space. Also as this tray has been moulded especially for each specific item it also keeps them in good condition. Available in compact and regular size and with a non-skid bottom to prevent sliding it fits easily onto over-the-bed tables leaving plenty of space for other supplies. Once a patient has been discharged the tray can be cleaned in a dishwasher ready for use again.

Find out more here.

2 – HCA’s Responsible for Personal Property

This system was suggested in an online discussion where once a patient is admitted to a ward a HCA is responsible for recording the patient’s belongings on a basic form such as the one printed onto a personal property bag. Any of the items the patient is not using can then be stored in this. When a patient is discharged or if they move onto a different ward the HCA checks the patient’s belongings against the list on the bag. If any items are missing it is noticed straight away giving them a real chance to find them. If they are being transferred to another ward the HCA would do a handover of the property bag with the HCA on the new ward.

Find out more here.

3 – Shake for SHADES System

Some hospitals have adopted the shake for SHADES system which stands for Spectacles, Hearing Aids and DEntures. This is a process for HCA’s to follow when stripping beds. This reminds them to shake any bedding before it is sent to laundry in case any of the patients items have been left within it. Patients can often wrap dentures up in tissue which can go unnoticed, by implementing this process this should no longer happen.

By following these three stages a tight system is created and any missing items should be noticed almost immediately.