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Royal Cornwall Hospitals to Boost Surgical Safety With RFID

The United Kingdom's NHS Trust is launching a UHF RFID system from Ingenica Solutions to track implants received, stored and then placed inside patients, to reduce manual efforts for tracking the high-value devices, while also increasing patient safety.
By Claire Swedberg

With the Ingenica Solutions system in place, Hall says, the hospital will tag implanted products, such as joints, first because of their criticality to patient safety. As tags are applied to product packaging, each tag's unique ID number is stored along with identifying information, such as the date of manufacture, the manufacturer, the lot number and the product type and size, in the Atticus software, hosted in the trust's Microsoft Dynamics enterprise resource planning system.

Next, the implants are moved to the surgical suite storage area, where an Ingenica UHF RFID desktop reader is installed. Staff members place the product on the reader before it is implanted in a specific patient. At that time, the clinicians use the Atticus software to input a patient's ID and link that number with the implant as they remove it from storage. The software then stores that patient ID number, along with the implant data.

In the event of a manufacturer recall, the software can be used to identify all patient ID numbers connected to a particular product. What's more, the hospital's patient-management software can link those IDs with specific patients, so that they can be contacted. The system also enables hospital employees to identify and quarantine products that have not yet been implanted, then return them to the supplier.

The system is intended to be taken live at the end of this month. The trust then plans to evaluate the anticipated reduction in product wastage, extra stock and labor time, as well as the expected efficiency gains related to any product recalls. The technology will also be used to automate replenishment orders for products that have been used and need to be replaced.

Additionally, the hospital is using RFID technology for some inventory management. The solution used—provided by real-time transparency, traceability and data-capture technology company Lyngsoe Systems—provides a network of RFID choke points in the form of reader portals, in order to locate medical electronic equipment such as surgical stack systems, imaging equipment, syringe drivers and pumps. They use a combination of passive UHF and active Wi-Fi tags depending on the critical nature of the item.

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