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Barcelona-area Hospital Manages Surgical Supplies Via Smart Cabinet

The Consorci Sanitari de l'Anoia is applying RFID tags to high-value surgical items, in order to track which patients receive them, as well as ensure that the inventory count is up to date, and that no product expires before use.
By Claire Swedberg
Jul 24, 2014

Consorci Sanitari de l'Anoia (Health Consortium of Anoia), a hospital located in the city of Igualada, in Spain's Barcelona province, has deployed an RFID-enabled solution known as the Dyane SmartCabinet—provided by Palex Medical—to track high-value products used in surgery, thereby ensuring that the facility's inventory count is always up to date, and that no product expires before use. The system also provides traceability regarding which items were used for which particular patients, and prevents clerical errors related to manually tracking goods. Palex will soon roll out the same solution at seven other, unrelated Spanish hospitals, according to Diana Roca, the marketing manager of Palex Medical's hospital automation division.

The Health Consortium of Anoia did not respond to requests for comment, but Roca indicates that prior to installing the cabinet this summer, the hospital managed surgical equipment and its use on patients manually. Tracking this information via paperwork is not foolproof, she says, since it requires several steps of manual effort by staff members. If surgical products are removed from shelves and used during an operation, a worker must create paperwork documenting that event, and attach the labels of each item used to that paperwork. The paperwork must then be photocopied, and those copies are sent to the ordering department to ensure replacements are requested. Failure to complete these steps could result in an item being out of stock at a time when the hospital needs it for surgery.

RFID readers built into Dyane SmartCabinet enable the Health Consortium of Anoia to automatically track its inventory and usage of surgical supplies.

So this month, the hospital installed a Dyane SmartCabinet in its surgical unit's hallway. The cabinet stores trocars, disposable laparoscopic instruments, pieces of mesh, laparoscopic staplers and other surgical items, all placed on trays behind locked doors. It can dispense these goods to authorized personnel who provide the proper password.

When a product is received at the hospital's central warehouse, a worker scans the item's bar-code label to capture the product's information, which is linked to its expiration date, description and lot number, and that data is received and stored in the Dyane software residing on the hospital's server. The software prompts an RFID-enabled version of Toshiba Tec's B-EX4 printer to encode an EPC Gen 2 passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tag (Palex uses tags from several vendors). The worker then affixes the tag to the product.

Once an employee brings the item to the surgical unit, it is placed on one of the cabinet's trays. The reader built into the cabinet uses an array of antennas to capture the ID number on the product's tag, and to forward that tag ID to the Dyane software via a cabled connection.

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