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Japanese Hospital Trials UHF Patient Wristband

SATO, the wristband technology provider, is testing the new product with the hospital to confirm that it does not interfere with pacemakers or other implantable devices, while also viewing how it boosts efficiency and patient comfort.
By Claire Swedberg

Mie University Hospital, located in Tsu, Japan, serves 20,000 patients annually, including children and adults. Until September 2016, it had used a bar-code-based system to identify every patient. However, the hospital is interested in utilizing an RFID solution that would reduce the need to disturb sleeping patients in order to scan their wristbands (a UHF RFID reader could capture a tag ID from a distance of several meters, although the read distance for the trial is set at just 10 centimeters) and prevent errors that may have previously occurred due to smudged or damaged bar codes.

During the pilot, each adult patient receives the new SATO UHF RFID wristband, the unique ID number of which is linked to that individual in the hospital's software. Each nurse wears a UHF RFID badge as well, also with a unique ID linked to his or her ID. Lastly, a tag is attached to each injectable medication.

SATO's new UHF RFID wristband ensures safety with patient-implantable devices.
A nurse who needs to identify a patient can use a handheld reader to capture that person's ID number and confirm his or her identity. If the patient requires an injectable medication, the nurse reads the tag ID numbers on her badge, the medication and the patient's bracelet. The reader need not be held within close proximity to the tags to accomplish this. That data is then collected in the hospital's software to create a permanent record of which medication was provided to which patient, when this occurred and by which health-care provider.

At the end of each visit, Konuma says, patients who have cardiac devices, such as pacemakers, can then have the settings on those devices checked to ensure that they are functioning properly.

Other hospitals are using SATO's HF RFID wristband, including Akita University Hospital, which has employed the bracelet for the past decade to identify patients and their treatment. This deployment may change to UHF RFID in the future, Konuma says, since UHF technology not only enables tags to be read at a greater distance, thereby providing more efficiency, but are also becoming less expensive than HF tags, thus reducing the overall cost of deployment for hospitals.

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