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Warning on hospital wristbands

11th July 2007

Hospitals across England and Wales are being urged to standardise wristbands in a bid to cut out errors in care.

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NHS trusts have been ordered to use white tags with black text, giving details such as name, date of birth and NHS number and have until next July to comply.

The ruling comes from the National Patient Safety Agency, which estimates 2,900 patients a year are given the wrong care because of confusion that arises over bands, which may be different in colour and content.

The Nursing Standard reported that some hospitals even use handwritten tags.

The wristband issue is said to be part of a bigger problem of treatment errors within the NHS where for a wide range of reasons about 24,000 patients were believed to have been given the wrong treatment last year in England and Wales.

The NPSA watchdog also expressed concern that health staff were becoming confused by the different procedures when they moved jobs or worked in different trusts.

Helen Glenister, deputy chief executive at the NPSA, said: “Wristbands are an important safety check in patient identification but do not take away the need for clinicians to check identification directly with patients.?

The Royal College of Nursing said the guidance was long overdue and would refocus the minds of nurses on making sure that the right patient gets the right treatment.

Michael Summers of the Patients Association said: “It is worrying so many mistakes are made and hopefully this will go some way to stopping this.?

 

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