When evaluating a patient wristbanding solution, sure, it’s important for IT decision-makers to consider business and performance issues such as cost of ownership, ease and efficiency of use by staff, and comfort for the patient. But let’s start with the most critical consideration—the impact of your choice on patient safety!
Consideration #1: Enhancing Patient Safety
Bar Code Image Quality: Thermal vs. Laser Printing
It’s critical for wristbands to remain readable and scannable throughout the entire patient stay.
- Thermal printers are optimally suited to produce 2-D symbols and very small bar codes, and can produce small labels to precise tolerances—a challenge for laser printers.
- Laser printers produce images by projecting small dots onto the page, which does not allow for the superior edge definition that squares provide.
- Furthermore, laser output is susceptible to toner flaking and smudging. This can lead to low image quality and repeated scan attempts, which may jeopardize both patient safety and staff productivity.
Wristband Material and Image Durability
Output from printers on inappropriate materials may result in fading, smudges, scratches or wrinkles, which will lead to bar code read errors and the need for reprints and replacements.
- To protect against typical hospital environmental conditions like moisture and chemicals, laser wristbands require a laminate overlay. If the overlay is not applied correctly, the bands may be prone to condensation, bacterial buildup, or smudged or smeared bar codes.
- Thermal wristbands include a special top coat. Testing has shown Zebra’s Z-Band® thermal, top-coated wristbands are scannable after repeated exposure to water and common solvents. See how Z-Band Comfort bar coded wristbands can even withstand hand sanitizers in this video.
- Thermal printers and coated wristbands produce smudge-free, highly durable bar codes that are readable for up to 14 days, while laser-printed wristbands may require replacement every 2-4 days.
Could the wristbands present an additional hazard or risk to a patient undergoing an MRI procedure? Zebra Z-Band wristbands were tested by an independent MRI testing company and were determined “MR-Safe.” Read more in the white paper Laboratory Testing of Zebra’s Z-Band® Direct Thermal Antimicrobial Wristbands.
Learn more about improving patient safety here.
Next, we’ll take a look at Consideration #2: total cost of ownership.