How To Improve Patient Safety With Quality Wristbands

Medical errors have become the third leading cause of death in the United States. Included under that term are cases of mistaken identity, misdiagnosis, hospital-acquired illness and many more mistakes. How can the American healthcare system prevent medical errors such as these? One approach in improving patient safety is with quality, standardized wristbands.

There are many ways wristbands can come in handy in terms of patient safety. First, they are designed to make patient identification more straightforward. When patients are unable to respond or otherwise identify themselves, a wristband gives nurses, doctors and other medical professionals a means to quickly identify them. Prompt recognition such as this is critical in a hospital setting and, especially, in emergency situations.

Wristbands can also be used to communicate an alert regarding the patient’s specific conditions or care requirements. For instance, color-coded alert bands should be placed on the patient’s wrist upon admission to signify a fall risk, DNR (do-not-resuscitate) status, allergy to latex, other allergy or to distinguish a restricted extremity. These stay on during the course of the patient’s hospital stay and work to keep staff informed and on alert for potential dangers. For optimal results, the color-coded bands ought to be standardized throughout a medical facility or, even better, across the state or country.

Another way wristbands might better protect patients is through clear and consistent processes. As protocols differ within the various healthcare settings, it can create confusion or spread misinformation. With standardized procedures, however, such errors could be reduced. One specific recommendation for uniformity is to utilize white wristbands with black, easy-to-read text for ID bands. That way, the information can be verified more quickly by patients at the onset and staff members during treatments.

Investing in high-quality materials for wristbands is essential for numerous reasons. The first is to minimize the risk for hospital-acquired infections. As one of the most common medical errors, these major health concerns could be mediated through improved sanitation practices and a culture of cleanliness. Wristbands that feature antimicrobial surfaces and are durable enough to withstand water and cleaning solutions work to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and viruses.

Going forward, continuously improving upon healthcare procedures across the country is vital if the instances of medical errors are to decrease. For further information on enhancing patient safety through quality wristbands, please see the accompanying resource.

Infographic created by Chicago Tag & Label