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Sunday 27th May 2018

Barcoded wristbands for patients

21st February 2007

Electronic tagging of patients through barcoded wristbands will improve patient safety and could save the NHS millions, says a new report.


Wrongly identifying patients costs the NHS an estimated £2bn in unnecessary bed days, as well as putting patients at risk.

Now trusts are being urged to adopt technology similar to that already in use at Birmingham Heartlands and Oxford Radcliffe hospitals. Barcoded bracelets allow staff to scan them at any time to check a patient’s identity and ensure they get the correct treatment.

The Department of Health said this could make a significant impact on the cost of misidentification, while health minister Lord Hunt said it would reduce mistakes and even save lives.

Launching its report, Coding for Success: simple technology for safer patient care, the DH said it had agreed a set of standards for all future NHS ID systems and recommended the use of GS1’s global data standards.

Although not compulsory, the government is keen to see a common system adopted across the NHS.

The recommendations have been met with concern by anti-identity card campaigners, who claim information stored on the RFID bracelets, in use at Birmingham Heartlands, has been shown to be accessible to unauthorised readers.

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Saturday 24th February 2007 @ 2:35

I seem to remember this quote from an Orwellian time. Does barcoding our patients further depersonalise the already impersonal nature of healthcare today?

Why not go a step further...how about a microchip for humans...or a tattoo at birth?

As a nurse, I cannot understand the error of patient identification, when simple careful checking will ensure no mistakes.

If necessary do as in Aged Care and add a Digital photo to the wrist band...or better still don't put it on the wrist where it's tempting to cut off for IV access...put on 2, on both ankles.

And talk with your patient.

If unconscious/ non English speaking or mute for any reason)..incomprehensible...a photo on the band and simulated on all charts is a much safer way to go than a bar code.

Bar codes in supermarkets have led to numerous pricing errors...again bar codes require human input...label patients like our licence...otherwise...go for the microchip....dogs at present are safer than humans..and can be found and returned or identified if lost or found dead.

Nurse in Australia


Wednesday 28th February 2007 @ 22:51

Over 4 years ago I suggested the use of bar codes within the NHS and submitted details on the way this could be achieved.
This was when I was involved in the Croydon CHC.
What is required for each NHS patient to be assigned a bar code and every procedure and drug to also be allocated
one and a system for scanning in usage.
This way a detailed print out on a patients health and usage can be almost immediatly be made available etc

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