A Digital Starter Kit for Better Patient Safety

Vigilant in the Hospital Pharmacy

Previously on our blog, we’ve talked a lot about patient safety. But with COVID-19 still raging and new variants of the coronavirus dominating the headlines, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture with patient safety, where protecting patients is a big undertaking that involves a lot of processes and efforts that need to be optimized.

While we’ve been battling COVID infection rates and death totals, some other alarming numbers have been in play, and they point to how important it is to make sure we’re not just protecting patients from viruses but also protecting them from identification, medication, and specimen errors that can prove harmful and fatal as well.

For example, 1.3 million people are still injured annually due to medication administration errors. And 64% if clinicians say a patient is misidentified “very frequently” or “all the time” in a typical medical facility.

Over 160,000 patient specimens are erroneously labeled each year and lead directly to adverse patient incident. And 13% of all surgical mistakes are completely avoidable cases directly related to errors in patient identification.

These sobering and startling numbers underscore the importance of always trying to improve our patient safety procedures and systems, and one of the best ways to do that it is go digital. Ideally, we need to have digital patient identification, tracking, labeling and other workflows in place to minimize the possibility of human error from eliminate manual processes that can lead to catastrophic mistakes.

For many healthcare providers, the prospect of digitizing and helping automate patient identification and patient care can be daunting, particularly if you’re still relying on a mix of both manual and technology-driven processes and you have budget limitations or competing priorities for innovation and improvements.

But it’s relatively simple and affordable to immediately improve patient safety with what our team at SK&T calls a digital starter kit.

The Zebra Digital Starter Kit for Patient Safety Improvement

Our digital starter kit for better patient safety is centers on Zebra purpose-built healthcare technologies and solutions for patient identification and healthcare tracking. These solutions are our top-recommended choices for identification, verification and tracking of patients, medication, specimens, equipment, and more.

For example, we often recommend a basic Zebra kit of solutions that can be used throughout the continuum of care, starting with patient identification at admission and extending all the way through final discharge. Here are the basic components of the kit:

ZD510-HC Wristband Printers

Zebra’s ZD510-HC healthcare wristband printers are the simplest and most effective solution on the market for quickly printing patient ID wristbands. The ZD510-HC uses pop-in cartridges and auto-calibration to match each wristband size and make the loading and printing process incredibly fast and easy.

The printer also features a disinfectant-ready and UV-resistant housing for safe cleaning and protection against germs and bacteria, which is great for helping keep every safe, including patients and staff alike.

Zebra Z-Band® Patient ID Wristbands

Zebra’s Z-Band patient ID wristbands are our top recommendation for fast and easy patient wristband printing as well as positive and accurate patient identification.

Z-Bands are direct thermal-printed wristbands you can print easily and then safely secure to a patient’s wrist. The whole process takes under a minute, and Z-Bands are also made to withstand exposure to harsh hand sanitizers, ensuring that labels and patient information remain easily readable and scannable after cleaning.

Z-Bands come in a variety of sizes from infants to adults, and there are also Latex-free designs and options to protect sensitive skin.

Zebra QLN420 Mobile Printers or ZQ/ZD Series Desktop Printers

Zebra’s QLN mobile and compact ZQ and ZD series desktop printers are great for fast and on-demand label printing on hospital carts, at nursing workstations, and in laboratories and pharmacies.

With these printers, your staff can quickly label, identify and start tracking specimens as well as medications and match them with patient IDs and records. Zerba’s printers are also rugged and drop-resistant with medical-grade designs and flexible Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for easy pairing with other devices or to connect to your network.

TC5x Series Mobile Computers

To scan barcode labels, track specimens and medications, and run the EHRs and software applications you use for identification, patient records and tracking, Zebra’s TC5x mobile computers provide an ideal all-in-one productivity device.

The TC5x Series provides fast and accurate 1D/2D barcode capture using Zebra’s advanced scanning algorithms, which speed up the scanning process and ensure first-time data capture, even when barcodes are damaged, smudged or poorly printed.

You also get enterprise-grade computer processing power, memory, and extended hot-swappable battery life so you can use your devices for long healthcare shifts or even multiple shifts. And it all comes in a sleek and smartphone-style device with a Gorilla Glass touch screen and casing built for the rigors of all-day, every day use, with optional accessories to add additional durability.

Specialized Healthcare Labels and Printing Supplies

To further error-proof patient care, it’s also a good idea to make sure you’re using the right barcode labels and printing supplies in certain areas where standard barcode labels can cause major problems.

Here are a few examples of common areas where labeling issues can create patient safety risks.

Phlebotomy Collection

Collecting and accurately identifying blood samples is often plagued by errors during manual identification of “stat” samples that need quick testing within an hour or less.

Since many healthcare facilities don’t have an easy way to identify these samples on a barcode label, it creates opportunities for identification and timing errors. If a sample is misidentified, lost, or a test doesn’t happen on time, you can end up having to do a re-draw and re-test.

Fortunately, you can automate phlebotomy collection and stat sample tracking with Zebra’s direct thermal IQ Color 2000D paper labels. These labels have colorful “tabs” that make samples immediately visible and identifiable, and you can activate the right color by using pre-printed labels with invisible inks that are activated on-demand during the label printing process.

Blood Bag Identification

Two common issues often occur with blood bag labeling for blood banks, and they involve labels fading from exposure to moisture and blood being contaminated by label adhesives that leach through blood bags.

By using Zebra’s thermal transfer 8000T primary blood bad polyethylene labels with Zebra’s 3200 wax/resin ribbon, you can put an end to both problems. Zebra’s uses specialized label adhesive to ensure that it doesn’t leach through the bag and contaminate the blood. And the label’s polypropylene material is resistant to moisture so it remains readable throughout its use.

Microscope Slide Labeling

Microscope slides for medical testing are another area where barcode labels can create problems. Contact with stains and Xylene during testing can cause labels to fall off the microscope slide or cause the image to fade and become unreadable and unscannable.

However, Zebra has created a thermal transfer Z-Xtreme 5000T polyester label and an image lock resin ribbon specifically for microscope slides.

The labels are pre-tested to ensure resistance to stains, Xylene and other chemicals used in the testing process, so your labels remain identifiable, readable and scannable. The image lock cartridge resin ribbon is available for use with Zebra’s ZD420-C printer, enabling quick and easy installation of your thermal ribbon.

Asset Tracking

Equipment isn’t always the first thing we think of in terms of patient safety risks, but assets such as wheelchairs, test equipment, beds and other items are frequently in high demand and needed in specific locations to ensure prompt and effective treatment, comfort and care.

I you don’t know where the right equipment or assets are, and you can’t get them to the right place at the right time, your patients could end up at risk. Also, if you can’t easily identify and track your equipment for inventory and to perform maintenance to keep it in good working order, this can create additional problems and headaches.

However, by using Zebra’s ZT411 RFID printer and printing and applying specialized Silverline RFID labels and tags to track metal equipment and other items, you can locate and track required medical devices and equipment remotely.

Since RFID uses wireless radio waves to identify, locate and track assets, there’s no need to conduct a visual search or scan a barcode to confirm the identity of the right item.

By installing Zebra fixed RFID readers and antennas in strategic locations throughout your facility, you can track equipment automatically as it moves from place-to-place, so you’ll always having an automated and accurate record of its last location. And the right RFID implementation, with the right devices, tags and coverage, will ensure your solution works seamlessly, even in hospital environments.

This can save your staff endless hours of searching for equipment and help you keep everything in the right place and well-maintained for on-demand use. And, most importantly, you can make sure the right equipment can be quickly retrieved or placed in the right place at the right time to ensure patient safety and timely, proper care.

To learn more about our digital starter kit for better patient safety, connect with our team at SK&T. As experts in healthcare identification, tracking and automation technologies, we can help you determine the best solutions for your patient care needs and take the right steps to improve safety throughout the continuum of care.

Contact SK&T for more info! info@skandt.com