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How do barcode wristbands solve problems with patient identification?

October 18th, 2018
The consistent and accurate identification of patients has long presented a challenge for healthcare organisations across the globe.

But with today’s technology, why should it?

The real issue is that the process of patient identification remains largely manual and persists across the entire patient journey. As such, it is highly prone to errors and can lead to serious patient harm.

But automated patient identification systems can solve this long-standing problem and improve the health and well-being of patients as well as protect the integrity of the healthcare system.

With manual processes, there are three key areas where errors are usually made:

  • Handwritten or typed patient identification labels- In addition to illegibility of handwriting, smudged or damaged labels can render them impossible to read.
  • Mislabelling or shortcuts in labelling– Often, healthcare staff skip the step in which patients actively confirm their identity or by pre-labelling tubes from multiple patients.
  • Oral confirmation of patient identification- Stressed, anxious patients can confirm the wrong information and failure to check the patient’s wristband or to follow other important steps, such as checking patient charts can result in costly mistakes to both patients and hospitals.

By standardising procedures around a consistent patient identification process and implementing barcode-based, automated patient identification and specimen collection healthcare organisations can make significant progress toward eliminating labelling errors and improving patient safety.

Modern barcodes, likes those available from BlueStar partner Zebra, offer a simple, definitive means of ensuring that the right patient receives the right procedure or the right dosage at every step in the patient journey.

In addition to providing greater accuracy and reliability in patient identification than typed or handwritten information, barcodes give caregivers additional data beyond the patient’s name and identification number that can improve patient safety.

Once wristbands are barcoded to provide basic patient identification, other tracking and data applications can be added to leverage barcode data entry. When dispensing medication to a patient, for example, the caregiver scans the wristband to identify the patient which automatically calls up the patient’s electronic health record.

The caregiver can then verify the prescription and dosage against the record before administering it to the patient.

In addition to ensuring the accuracy of patient identification and medication information, barcodes also ensure that critical information is always with the patient as they move throughout the healthcare facility, thus saving considerable time and money for the healthcare organisation.

To find out more about moving from manual patient identification to automatic patient identification using barcode wristbands, contact BlueStar today.



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