New GS1 Standards For Surgical Instrument Traceability

Healthcare providers throughout the world have been implementing Automatic Identification and Data Capture (AIDC) systems in order to ensure traceability of their surgical instruments, improve patient safety and optimize asset management. An area of particular concern was the instrument reprocessing cycle, particularly to and from sterilization. Ultimately, the goal of the system is to save costs through a more efficient process and better asset management.

Healthcare providers have already started to implement two-dimensional barcodes directly on their surgical instruments. Because of this, the GS1 Healthcare established a group to develop appropriate industry standards, which underwent the GS1 Global Standards Management Process (GSMP) and Application Standards for Small Medical/Surgical Instrument Marking have now been established. The implementation of this standard is definitely a significant accomplishment towards the goal of improving patient safety.

The standards take into account the specific requirements of marking surgical instruments, such as their small size, readability throughout the items life-cycle and the need for biocompatibility. With the standard, industry wide-adoption is possible by manufacturers and healthcare providers of the GS1 Datamatrix, the GTIN and the serial number in an application identifier. Camera-based image scanners are able to automatically capture the data in the sterilization department, enabling full surgical instrument traceability and thus improving both efficiency and patient safety.

If you’re in the health care industry, let us know your thoughts on how surgical instrument traceability standards affect you.