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Nutrace, Belintra Market RFID-based Surgical-Tool Tracking Solution in the U.S.
The Nutrace system, already used by hospitals in Europe, includes Belintra's passive HF RFID tags, Panmobil's handheld RFID readers and its own Stemato software for managing data.
Aug 25, 2015—
Nutrace, a health-care efficiency solutions company owned by Belgian firm Besco, has opened an office in Winston-Salem, N.C., to access the U.S. market for its hybrid RFID and bar-code solutions to track surgical tools through the cleaning, sterilization and kit-packing processes. The system is designed to help hospitals efficiently monitor which processes each tray of tools undergoes before reaching an OR and a patient.
Several of Besco's customers in Europe have been employing the hybrid system for at least the past three years, in order to identify trays and create a digital record of when those trays were loaded with surgical instruments, as well as the patient on which they were used and when they were cleaned and sterilized. The system consists of Belintra passive high-frequency (HF) 13.56 MHZ RFID tags attached to trays, Panmobil handheld RFID readers to interrogate those tag IDs, and Nutrace's Stemato software to manage the collected data. Users can also purchase instrument trays that come with integrated Steri-ID tags.
Traditionally, hospitals have tracked trays and tools manually to ensure that both the tools and the trays are properly cleaned and sterilized, and that the correct tools are packed on the trays destined for a particular surgical procedure. Tighter safety regulations in Europe and United States have led hospitals to seek more automated solutions, according to Gus Vargas, Nutrace's CEO. Besco, founded in 2002, has long offered a bar-code-only solution that helps make the process more efficient. However, Vargas says, bar codes pose some shortcomings when it comes to tracking trays. Printed bar-code labels are not indestructible—and, in fact, must be replaced every few months due to the washing and sterilization processes.
For those reasons, Nutrace is now offering an RFID version of its solution, with tags attached to trays. The company never considered using RFID tags on tools, Vargas says, because it felt that such a tag, which is typically very small, could fall off the tool to which it is attached and into a patient's incision. While there haven't been reports of this actually happening, the firm believes that the glue used for attaching tags is vulnerable to damage during the cleaning and sterilization processes, and so it didn't want to expose hospitals and patients to that risk.
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