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Swiss Oncology Center Prevents Errors Via RFID

Riviera Hospital is using Elekta's RFID-based solution that issues an alert if a patient is being treated with the wrong accessories.
By Claire Swedberg

The solution also comes with a standard camera to provide live conventional video of the patient and the treatment he receives. What's more, the system includes a stereoscopic infrared (IR) camera that detects the positions of IR markers placed on the radiotherapy positioning devices. The software not only instructs the user about where the devices should be placed, but also indicates when the devices are correctly positioned. As soon as the software ascertains that all of the proper components are set up correctly for that patient, a lock in the radiotherapy device is released, and the treatment can then be delivered.

Thanks to the RFID technology, Pachoud says, the center has been able to safely treat patients at a rate of one every 10 minutes, since technicians are now informed automatically about whether the correct equipment is present before a patient's radiation treatment begins. Without the technology, the staff must visually inspect each item and compare it against the electronic record in order to prevent any errors from occurring.

Riviera Hospital's Marc Pachoud
Once a patient has completed his series of treatments, Pachoud says, the hospital discards that tag so that it cannot be used with another patient. At present, he adds, about 80 badges are being used by the center's patients.

One challenge related to the RFID technology involved the presence of carbon fiber in the treatment table. This fiber tended to reduce RF transmission reliability, Lutz says, so Elekta had to adjust reader configuration in order to ensure a clear transmission between tag and reader.

According to Lutz, a variety of UHF RFID tags are being used from multiple tag vendors. In addition, she says, the reader hardware chosen depends on the specific country in which the technology is being used, based on local regulation.

"The key benefit for the user is an independent verification and double-check of patients and treatment accessories prior to treatment," Lutz states, "and thus a key contribution to enhanced patient safety."

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