Barcoded Wristbands: A Closer Look At Patient Identification

Even the most highly trained medical professionals are not immune to making mistakes. In fact, the World Health Organization says that nearly a quarter of people in the EU say they have been affected by a medical error. Whether it’s patient misidentification or a mix-up with medicine, these mistakes can result in damage or even death.

The three most common medication errors are an incorrect dose, the wrong frequency or strength of medicine being dispensed, or an omitted medicine. With 5 percent of patient wristbands estimated to be incorrect, missing, or illegible, barcoded wristbands are proving to be a smart way to manage patient identification and keep safety risks at bay.

Barcoded Wristbands Contain More Information, Less Room For Errors

Barcodes have the ability to store data using less space than text that has been typed or written by hand, which means that barcoded wristbands can carry a lot more information than their traditional counterparts. In addition, 2D variants can store photos of patients to avoid identification mix-ups.

When medical staff scan a wristband, they can identify the patient and compare the medication to the information in their electronic records, with medication only being administered once digital confirmation has been received. Staff members can then scan their own barcoded identification to keep track of who administered the medicine.

Barcode data entry has an impressive accuracy rate of less than one for every 3 million scans, which compares quite favorably to that of skilled typists, who make an average of one error for each 300 keystrokes. In addition, it has been shown to save as much as 2.75 hours for each 12-hour nursing shift.

Barcoded wristbands can make significant gains in positive patient identification, keeping errors to a minimum and boosting productivity while giving confidence to patients and staff alike.

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