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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.
The Nutrace solution consists of Belintra's Steri-ID loop tags (either attached to a hospital's own trays and cases, or integrated into the Belintra trays), in addition to a Panmobil SmartSCANNDY reader that can scan bar codes and interrogate HF RFID tags, the tags themselves and the trays to which those tags are attached. Nutrace's software resides on a user's database and tracks each step of the cleaning and packing processes.
Nutrace first laser-etches a data-matrix ID number to each tool, and then links that number with the tool's description. A Steri-ID loop tag, compliant with the ISO 15693 standard, consists of a round, 1.1-inch RFID inlay encased in silicone and integrated with a stretchable loop, also made of silicone, which is used to attach the tag to a tray or case. The Steri-ID tags integrated on trays measure 1.85 inches square. Each tag is encoded with a unique ID number.
When a tray of used tools returns from the OR, a staff member utilizes the handheld to read its RFID tag, indicating that the tray has arrived in the decontamination area. The tools are then separated from the tray and undergo separate wash processes. A worker interrogates the tray's tag via the handheld reader as it enters the washing unit, and again as it comes out of the wash cycle. The tag is read a fourth time as the tray is being packed, at which time a worker pulls up details regarding the tray by reading the HF tag, views a list of what should be stored on it and scans each instrument's bar-coded ID as it is repacked on the tray. The software captures each scanning event and determines whether the right tools are being packed; if any are missing, it displays an alert for the individual using the software for packing.
Once this step is completed, the tray is covered with sterilization wrap. A bar-coded label is then attached to the exterior, which is scanned in order to link the label's bar-code ID number with the tray's RFID number.
When the packed tray is used in surgery, its bar-coded label is scanned one more time before the tray is opened and used by surgeons. The purpose of the final scan is to link the tray and its instruments with the particular surgeon and patient involved. Vargas says the company is now testing whether the tray's RFID tag could be reliably read through the wrapper. However, the wrapper's bar-code label would remain on the item since the label is printed with other human-readable information, such as the date of sterilization and the name of the technician who packed it.
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