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It’s all in the Wrist – Bar Code Wristbands for Improved Accuracy

Posted by Sabine Nickel

February 23, 2011 at 9:42 AM

An accelerated trend toward reducing administrative costs while improving the quality of care are driving the widespread adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems at hospitals nationwide. To this end, bar code-based systems are proven in their ability to boost the accuracy of patient records, minimize errors, and enhance the overall safety of care.

Bar Code Wristbands are Essential for Preventing Errors and Improving Quality

The FDA’s own research concluded that describe the imageincreased use of bar code-based bedside medication administration systems would prevent 500,000 adverse drug events and blood transfusion errors over a 20-year period, keeping an estimated $93 billion in treatment costs out of the healthcare system. And that’s not to mention the potential for saving lives due to incorrect treatment. In a staggering admission, the Institute of Medicine reported that preventable medical errors cause up to 98,000 deaths and 770,000 adverse events in the U.S. annually.

And: Bar Code Wristbands are Foundation for other Patient Safety Applications


Bar coded patient wristbands provide the foundation for preventing errors by ensuring accurate patient information is always available at the point of care. Once wristbands contain bar codes to provide basic patient identification, the result enables numerous other identification, tracking, and data collection applications. A bar-coded wristband can provide two forms of identification in one location by encoding the patient name and identification number.

Because bar codes store data in less space than is required for the same text, bar coded wristbands can include more information than traditional text wristbands. In addition, bar code scanning is significantly more accurate and faster than manually recording information.

Bar code wristbands can be beneficial wherever patients require identification or when information needs recording. Improved accuracy and timesaving translate into benefits in many applications such as:

  • Medication Administration – A nurse scans the wristband to identify the patient with a bar code scanner interfaced to a mobile or bedside computer. The nurse then scans the bar code on the medication to compare the information in the patient’s electronic record to verify that the patient should receive the medication at the indicated dosage and time.
  • Blood Administration – The process for verifying that patients receive the right blood products is very similar to the process for medication administration. After correctly identifying the patient, the nurse scans the blood product for transfusion, confirms the patient’s blood type, and verifies both the physician’s order and the patient’s consent.
  • Specimen Collection – ByBedside specimen collection scanning patient wristbands prior to drawing specimens and producing labels at the patient bedside with a mobile printer, caregivers can minimize the potential for error.
  • Treatment – Wristband scanning for patient verification helps surgical teams, technicians, and other healthcare professionals ensure they are providing the right treatment for the right patient at the right time.
  • Non-medical Applications – Medical facilities can realize timesaving benefits in a variety of administrative and non-medical activities where patient information is recorded, such as ordering bedside meals, billing management, and telephone use.

There are many ways to benefit from bar coded patient wristbands and take advantage of the accuracy and convenience that bar coding provides. Bar coded patient wristbands can help healthcare facilities comply with the latest public safety and healthcare mandates today, while positioning them for dramatic safety and quality improvements tomorrow.

For more information about bar code printing and wristband technologies, read our White Paper It's all in the wrist.

Topics: Healthcare, Patient Safety, Wristbands, APAC, North America, Latin America, EMEA