In hospitals right now, it’s hard to put too high an emphasis on patient safety — particularly because studies show medical errors are ranking as the third-leading cause of death in America today. Unfortunately, according to research published in the Journal of Patient Safety, somewhere between 210,000 and 400,000 individuals are dying each year from preventable medical mistakes that take place in American hospitals. This is a huge number and one that can decrease through preventative strategies and more carefully coordinated patient care.
“The researchers caution that most medical errors aren’t due to inherently bad doctors,” says an article at Johns Hopkins University, “and that reporting these errors shouldn’t be addressed by punishment or legal action. Rather, they say, most errors represent systemic problems, including poorly coordinated care ...” In other words, one of the best ways hospitals can address the problem of medical mistakes is through better care coordination at a systemic level. One such solution that could provide great improvement is strategically used patient wristbands. Wristbands — normally used to identify patients and inform medical personnel about conditions, allergies, etc., can be more effective through a few simple strategies.
Some of the best ways to make the most of wristbands for fewer medical mistakes include:
Color-coding wristbands. In emergency situations where every second counts, being able to identify information quickly, due to color-coded wristbands, can make a huge difference in proper care.
Making bands easy to read. Wristbands need print large enough to be easily read and understood to avoid miscommunication and resulting errors.
Making bands simple to replace. When a patient needs a new wristband, hospital personnel need to be able to get a new one right away, without lag time between bands that makes mistakes more likely.
Using antimicrobial materials. The last thing you want is for a wristband to increase infection risk, so wristbands with antimicrobial surfaces are another smart preventative measure.
Avoiding all metals. Because patients may need MRIs, which require all metal to be removed from the patient, the best wristbands will be completely metal-free.
At a systemic level, improving wristbands is a great way to improve patient outcomes and decrease risks to patient safety in the hospital. To learn more about the strategies listed above and how they can improve patient outcomes, take a look at the helpful infographic below.