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Displaying articles for: 12-05-2010 - 12-11-2010

Positive ID: the importance of patient tracking

by Intermec ‎December 8 2010 12:16 PM - edited ‎December 17 2010 07:38 AM



Now that we’ve taken a look into how printer technology can help eliminate  costly errors by utilizing them at the point-of-care to label specimens and patient charts, we’re going to shift focus into another area where printer and media technology are being utilized – positive patient identification, specifically, patient wristband applications.


As you can imagine, the overall foundation for patient safety lies in their positive identification. Hospitals have been doing this for years through patient wristbands. However in recent years, hospitals have looked for upgrades to help avoid some of the patient identification errors that were drastically increasing. Incidents of wristbands falling off, being illegible or smudged have increased, and consequently, transcription errors and misidentification have also increased.


A study by the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), as outlined in this Intermec White Paper, showed that patient misidentification was the root cause of 72 percent of adverse hospital events. A UK Study also found that missing wristbands or wristbands with incorrect information were directly responsible for more than 200 incidents over a 19 year period (for more on this, visit Intermec’s “Improve Patient Safety with a Quality Wristband Solution White Paper).


So as bar coding becomes more prevalent in healthcare, will these misidentification errors decrease? It’s definitely a step in the right direction. According to the College of American Pathologists Q-TRACKS Study, the main factors in wristband errors are as follows:


  • Patient not wearing wristband (71%)
  • Missing, incorrect or illegible information (24%)
  • Multiple conflicting wristbands (4%)
  • Patient receiving another patient’s wristband on accident (1%)


Bar coding and printer technology can certainly help streamline these issues in a variety of ways. With thermal printing for example, illegibility would be almost eliminated through consistently clear, crisp images. Combined with durable wristband solution specific media, hospitals  can effectively produce more durable, higher quality wristbands without problem.


In my next post, we’ll take a deeper look into how printer and label media are helping to solve many of the patient identification issues seen in today’s healthcare field.

About the Author
  • As Director of Mobile Printers, I currently lead Intermec’s mobile printer strategy. Previously, I led Intermec’s mobile computing, RFID and Data Capture product strategy and marketing teams and have also worked with Intermec’s Industry Marketing efforts for enterprise asset management and field service application solutions.
  • Intermec, now part of Honeywell Scanning & Mobility, is focused on supply chain workflow performance. We design the leading data capture and information management solutions at the interface between mobile workers, assets, and customers. For more information about Intermec, visit
  • My passion? helping businesses solve technology problems. I'm currently the Honeywell Smart Printing evangelist , firmware strategist and manager of desktop printers. A big part of my job is to recruit new Smart Printing partners, either as developers or resellers who partner with developers to deliver Smart Printing applications. I worked as an Intermec Systems Engineer for nine months in 2008 as my first position at this company. Prior to Intermec I was a professional software developer, trainer, sales rep and finally director of software teams for a number of small software publishers.
  • Mike Hansen works in the Technology Office as Staff Engineer based in Everett, Wash. He is responsible for the wireless WPAN, WLAN, and WWAN technology direction for Intermec product portfolios. As part of his role, Mike collaborates with Engineering, Marketing, and Technical Partners to establish the technical direction and system engineering leadership in wireless capabilities for Intermec products.
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