In any healthcare environment, safety is paramount — and that’s exactly why patient identification matters so much. To ensure the right patient gets treated, you have to know who the patient is. In fact, you often have to know quickly, almost instantaneously, to act fast and provide proper care. Likewise, to ensure it’s the proper treatment you’re administering to a certain individual, you need a way to easily and clearly communicate important information. This includes restricted extremities, latex or other allergies, and/or do-not-resuscitate (DNR) orders.
This is where quality wristbands come into play. Every year, hundreds of thousands of patients die because of preventable medical mistakes; with wristbands, you can do something to work against these kinds of errors at your facility.
How can you use wristbands to improve patient safety? Here are some tips:
- Color-code the wristbands. Using a facility-wide system of color coding for wristbands ensures that any professional can, at a glance, know a patient’s special needs. For example, say you make purple wristbands for all patients with latex allergies: This allows all medical personnel to get the message simply by seeing the color on the patient’s wrist. Furthermore, you may want to coordinate wristband colors with matching codes on documents and signage, reinforcing the messaging.
- Educate staff on using the wristbands. You not only want everyone to understand the color coding, but it’s also a good idea to have a procedure in place for double-checking them. Train your staff to verify wristband alerts upon assessment, shift changes, and facility transfers to ensure mistakes can’t fall through the cracks.
- Make the labels easy to read. Using wristbands with poor legibility essentially defeats the purpose of using them. Because the goal is quick, easily discernable communication, you must make the wristbands easy to read. Use large enough fonts. Choose wording or abbreviations that everyone understands. This can help prevent serious misunderstandings that could potentially cause harm to everyone.
- Remove any other colored wristbands. If a patient is wearing themed and/or colored wristbands that could be confused with hospital ones, remove them during treatment. If the patient is resistant, explain the potential risks and/or cover the band with tape instead.
- Make the labels easy to replace. The easier it is to replace a wristband, the less chance an individual lacks one for too long. Choose wristbands that are easy to print, customize and apply, so you don’t have any trouble getting them onto your patients.
Today, there is no better intervention in healthcare than the wristband for communicating in emergencies. In crises where mere seconds can make all the difference in a patient’s care, having a wristband can be the identifier that protects someone’s health and well-being.
Interested in learning more about how to improve patient safety with quality wristbands? Take a look at the attached resource. In it, you’ll find a variety of practical tips for ensuring you’re using wristbands to the fullest at one’s facility.
Infographic Created by Chicago Tag & Label