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Hong Kong Union Hospital Adopts RFID Temperature Sensors for Pediatric Patients

The system enables the children to have a better night's sleep, and also provides nurses with real-time readings of temperature and other vital signs.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 11, 2012Compared with adults, pediatric patients are at greater risk of spiking fevers, and for that reason, hospitals must often record the temperatures of young patients numerous times throughout the night. If the staff uses a handheld thermometer, a child is likely to be awakened every time his or her temperature is taken—plus, that child's fever may have risen dangerously high in the interim. To enable its pediatric patients to have a better night's sleep, and to gain more frequent temperature and vital-sign readings, Hong Kong Union Hospital has installed a radio frequency identification system provided by Singapore RFID company Cadi Scientific. The solution, known as SmartSense, consists of temperature-sensing RFID tags that patients wear on their abdomen, RFID interrogators mounted on walls, and SmartSense software to receive that data, store it for the hospital staff, and issue alerts in the event that a temperature is rising, according to Grace Too, Cadi Scientific Hong Kong's business account manager.

Hong Kong Union Hospital is a 400-bed facility housing a pediatric ward able to accommodate up to 54 patients. When children stay at the medical center for treatment, a nurse utilizes a handheld tympanic (ear) thermometer to monitor each child's temperature. The rate at which this task is performed varies according each patient's particular temperature trends.

With the system in place, says Cheung Ka Ming, Hong Kong Union Hospital's IT system manager, "We hope to achieve not only the goal of enhancing children's rest during their hospitalization, but also allowing physicians and nurses to receive real-time alerts and trending of temperature that facilitate prompt treatment and prescription."

A Cadi TSS 800 active ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID sensor, shaped like a disk and measuring approximately 1 inch in width, is applied to a patient's abdomen via medical adhesive tape. Powered by a lithium battery, the sensor measures that individual's temperature every 30 seconds. It then transmits that data, along with the sensor tag's unique ID number, to Cadi SMN 800 interrogators mounted on the walls, which forward that information to the SmartSense Enterprise software residing on the hospital's back-end system. The hospital's own vital-sign monitors are connected to a medical device interface known as a Cadi SmartBridge (SMB) 800, which receives blood-pressure and pulse-rate data from the vital-signs monitor, and links that information with the bar-coded ID number printed on the patient's wristband, which a nurse scans via the SmartBridge's handheld bar-code scanner. The SmartBridge then forwards that data to the network.

The temperature sensors can transmit across a range of 10 to 20 meters (32.8 to 65.6 feet). The hospital installed 27 readers throughout its pediatric ward, in order to provide 100 percent coverage of the area.

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