As discussed in our previous blog article, (Barcodes for Patient ID are Indispensable, but are They Fool Proof?) wristband and barcode quality directly affect the accuracy in patient identification. Wristband quality and consistency depend heavily on the print technology, printer model and wristband material used. With that being said, we decided to post a few questions to consider when investing in a wristband printing solution.
Questions to ask when investing in a wristband printer:
Can the printer support media that resists processes and substances used in patient care?
What is the total time required to print a wristband (including the time spent loading wristband media, if applicable)?
Could wristband printing time create a bottleneck at admissions or for patient transfers?
Do positive patient identification processes include barcode or RFID identification, or could processes be upgraded to include these technologies in the future?
Does your healthcare organization currently have a bar code requirement for wristbands to improve patient safety? Are they likely to implement one in the future?
Can bar codes be printed directly on the wristband, or is a separate bar code label needed?
Does the printer support the 2D bar code formats commonly used in healthcare, including Aztec Code, Data Matrix, PDF417 or QR (Quick Response) Code?
Does the media have a tamper-proof design to prevent fraud by patients?
What happens when wristbands are poor quality and can’t be used? Are there any special disposal steps needed to protect patient privacy?
Print directly on the wristband to save time and prevent errors.
It is advantageous to print text, graphics and bar codes directly on the wristband, rather than printing labels separately and applying them to blank wristbands. Printing a separate label introduces several potential points of failure and adds to the time and labor required to create wristbands. If separate labels are used, the hospital must ensure the media has appropriate, durable adhesive that will not fail after becoming exposed to water, alcohol and other common substances. Even if the label does not fall off completely, it can begin to peel away, which makes it harder to read (or impossible to read for a bar code scanner). Peeled labels also create a place for dirt and bacteria to collect. Printing directly on the wristband prevents this problem and eliminates several variables to wristband quality and performance.