How To Improve Patient Safety With Quality Wristbands

December 29, 2014

Updated July 2018

Patient safety is a basic expectation in hospitals, but in 2018 the country is still falling short. As in 2013, and now 2018, estimates place medical errors still as the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. behind heart disease and cancer, and these fatalities are wholly avoidable. Better attention to sanitation and correct performance of medical procedures can go a long way toward reducing patient deaths. Color-coded alert bands and chart label wristbands help reduce healthcare errors.

The Importance of Patient Wristbands

Patient wristbands are another necessary approach. They can help physicians and other medical staff quickly identify at-risk patients and decide how to treat patients on the spot. With improved patient safety comes increased profitably, so your hospital stands to benefit greatly from taking serious measures. The right wristbands can make a big difference.

Following are some ways to increase patient safety with quality wristbands:

Use a consistent color-coding system.

Color-coded wristbands can be an effective line of defense against medical errors. They can indicate at a glance the most important patient information in case an urgent situation comes up. The last thing you want in your hospital is for physicians, nurses and other providers to be fumbling around, looking through medical charts, instead of treating a patient who is having an emergency. Color-coded wristbands can prevent this.

Using a consistent color-coding system helps guide medical staff when they are making quick decisions. Here are some possible colors and what they could indicate:

  • Red – do not resuscitate (DNR)

  • Purple – allergy to latex

  • Blue – allergy to something other than latex

  • Yellow – restricted extremity

    Make them easy to read.

    Selecting easy-to-read wristbands and labels can improve patient safety. Patients can more quickly and accurately verify their personal information when they first receive their bands. Later, medical staff can more easily read the necessary information on bands and have less of a chance of making a fatal mistake.

    Consider sanitation.

    Hospital-acquired infections are a major concern, and patient wristbands can promote a culture of cleanliness. Select a brand that has anti-microbial surfaces, so they do not carry and spread germs. Durable wristbands can resist water, alcohol, soaps and cleaning solutions, so they do not increase risk for infections.

    Select MRI-safe bands

    Making sure patients have no metal objects on their person is imperative before allowing them to approach an MRI scanner for diagnostic and monitoring scans. Having metal-free wristbands allows radiologists and others in the radiology department to worry about one less potential danger when preparing patients for MRIs.

    Make replacement easy.

    Patients are bound to need replacement wristbands for any number of reasons. Making sure they are easy to replace can improve patient safety by ensuring that patients do not go without wristbands for a long period of time. When wristband labels are easy to customize, print and apply to wristbands, patients can get their bands back more quickly.

    The proper use of wristbands in the hospital setting can have big implications for patient safety. Use them well, and you may see your patient outcomes improve as your medical error rate decreases.

    Interested in learning more about healthcare and patient safety products in 2018? Visit Chicago Tag & Label's Healthcare Product Section.

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