Several major hospitals are failing to generate and print standardised wristbands for their patients, even though a deadline requiring them to do so passed more than 18 months ago.
In March 2007, the National Patient Safety Agency issued a Safer Practice Notice Alert requiring NHS organisations in England and Wales to standardise and print patient wristbands.
The alert said they should do this from the hospital demographic system at the patient bedside "where possible."
It also said that all inpatients in general acute and community settings should have printed wristbands by 18 July 2009.
The alert was issued following evidence that over a one year period, more than 2,900 patients received the wrong care as a result of poorly written wristbands.
However, figures recently published by the NPSA show that 13 trusts have yet to notify the organisation that they have implemented the wristbands, which simply require the patient’s first and last name, date of birth and NHS Number to be printed rather than handwritten.
The trusts include University Hospitals of Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, St Helen’s and Knowsley NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal West Sussex NHS Trust, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.
Twelve of the trusts say action is ‘ongoing’; although at least one - Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust - has publicised work to roll out barcoded wristbands that are linked to its iSoft patient administration system.
One trust, Mid Essex, is on the NPSA list as assessing the relevance of the alert to the organisation.
After the wristband deadline passed in 2009, the Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care published an advanced notification of a new information standard defining the procedures necessary to add barcodes to patient wristbands in all care settings by July 2011.
The latest figures shed doubt on the likelihood of a new standard being pushed forward or trusts being able to comply with it.
A spokesperson for the ISB told eHealth Insider that there has been a delay in the approval of the standard.
Standards body GS1, which are working with the Department of Health on the development of the standard said: “We are aware that the DH are currently working on the wristband standards for the submission to the ISB and are hoping to get this completed before July."
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Its not that diffucultIt is I, LeClerc 210 weeks ago
Barcode technology is so well established, be that wristbands, notes, drugs or blood, that this project really shouldn't be a challenge to hospitals today. Similarly, having a multi access PMI integrated to PAS and all main clinical systems should be a defacto situation. So maybe those Trusts behind on this are experiencing other, impacting problems. But you have got to have the skilled technical, implementation and support staff plus the finances, vision and nursing/clinical buy-in to implement. With wrist bands having the capacity to hold more that one bar code/type, future (more complicated) projects such as blood management can follow at their own pace.
But we should really be looking at the next stage of barcading and be considering simple (cheap) RFID chips embedded in wrist bands too.
Foundation statusSarah Bruce 210 weeks ago
What's equally worrying is that the majority of the trusts mentioned have already achieved foundation status and that some of them are considered to have relatively sophisticated IT yet are still handwritting their wristbands. Is it just a case of not being bothered..?
A good ideaMrDog 210 weeks ago
Printed wristbands are a good idea but don't just be another one of those tabloids taking the opportunity to go wagging your finger at those that haven't done it yet. There are many priorities in an NHS hospital and this competes with all of them for resource. You are potentially talking about an interfacing development and an infrastructure cost including printers and if you go the whole hog some kind of mobile printing. It's not insignificant. The risk has to stack up with other risks we carry.
Some will struggle with the barcode printing and whilst they shouldn't it's inevitable. While they are sorting this out should they go with a half baked system or wait until they have the one that works for everything?
Finally, they will not all have systems that lend themselves to bar code input at the moment. This requires mobile blood collection or tracking systems that are on the way and partially implemented in the NHS. Something has to go first so it's a good idea to get this in now, but should not exactly be placed above all other priorities just because someone who doesn't work in a hospital and experience any of the pressure says it's a good idea. It's not just about legibility.
Priorities and "Patient Saftey"george385 210 weeks ago
I've implemented patient wrist bands in a trust that did not have bar-coding technology wrapped up with their blood bank – and I know of plenty of others that have as well.
Blood bank bar-coding is a completely separate issue to patient wristbands - and different information is stored in the barcode. They should not be interdependent on each other.
The information recorded on the wrist band is explicit and clearly stated in the appropriate NPSA safety directive. Some trusts have added more data (such as patient home address) only to discover that mobile phones can read the barcode (1-d and 2-d): That’s the reason that the direct was explicit as to what should be on the wristband and not to over load the band with data (which in itself can introduce risk).
My primary source of income is from IT - but I also have a Pharmacy background gained in the acute sector and one of the most basic checks performed at the point of drug administration is "Right Drug/ Right Patient", and handwritten/ soiled and ambiguous wristbands are a serious source of mis-administration of drugs on the ward environment.
To state that trust has greater priories is worrying – from a clinical and best practice perspective.