Patient tagging cuts identity mix-ups

A Birmingham hospital trust is to give patients undergoing chest or ear, nose and throat surgery RFID tags to prevent identity mix-ups.

A Birmingham hospital trust is to give patients undergoing chest or ear, nose and throat surgery RFID tags to prevent identity mix-ups.

The Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust is planning to extend a pilot tagging project to cover up to 4,500 patients a year, following the success of a pre-pilot scheme running in the ear, nose and throat day case unit and two operating theatres since November 2004.

The trust has issued a tender notice for the £300,000 project to implement the tagging system, which sees patients across five wards and three operating theatres given a wristband with an RFID token and a digital photograph.

The system is designed to make surgery “mistake-proof” by tracking patients as they are moved around the hospital and verifying their ID, to ensure that they receive the correct operation.

The RFID tag data is linked to an information system deployed on workstations in the wards and theatres and accessible by clinicians on PDAs.

The tagging system can also be  used to verify that the patient has undergone the appropriate pre-operative checks and that infection risks for particular patients are highlighted to staff.

The RFID tags replace paper patient notes. The spokesperson added, “There’s also a big efficiency implication. It will improve theatre efficiency, saving the doctors’ and nurses’ time so we will get a higher number of patients through theatre.”

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