Just over one in every four respondents to a European Commission Survey published this year had experienced an adverse event while under hospital care. Whilst this should be cause for concern in its own right, there has also been a significant increase in the proportion of adverse events reported, rising from 28% in 2009 to 46% in 2014.
It’s not surprising then that survey results showed that 53% of EU citizens think that patients could be harmed by hospital care, clearly an issue the healthcare sector needs to take seriously.
And it’s understandable. A visit is worrying for anyone concerned, especially in an intense hospital working environment. Patients and relatives are anxious. Staff are under intense pressure throughout every shift. And when decisions are made, they have to be the right ones, with the right information at hand, every time.
Too often, the errors leading to adverse events are made around the identity of the patient in question, and the consequences of incomplete, illegible or missing notes or identity wristbands can be fatal.
Improving safety, comfort and efficiency every step of the way
NHS England has highlighted GS1 standards in patient identification as key to its new strategy to drive down procurement costs, whilst improving its service at the same time. As part of its three-year programme overview, the NHS has set a target for all its trusts meeting GS1 standing certification by 2016, aiming to save around £800 million in the process.
Central to GS1 standards are mobile printing, barcodes, and more recently Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) solutions that are being used to improve safety, comfort and efficiency at every stage of a patient’s hospital stay. These simple, secure ways to confirm identity help to speed up hospital processes from admission to discharge, and from the pharmacy to the wards.
Barcode wristbands provide the two required forms of identification needed in one easy-to-access place by digitally encoding person-specific information, such as the patient’s name and identification number. Barcode-based systems not only allow caregivers to identify patients and document their treatments, but also enhance the accuracy and completeness of EHRs.
Whilst patients do not need to know about GS1, they will definitely have an opinion and expectation about how they feel cared for. Technology and solutions that enhance the patient experience through improved safety is surely a win regardless of cost. Yet, when business efficiency is also enhanced in the process it is hard to see how this is not a win-win for all involved. After all, efficiency gains lead to improved services and patient care, further realising the benefit.
Our Positive Patient ID website provides a wide range of patient safety-related resources to help you ensure patient safety throughout your business.