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Safety Counts! a newsletter highlighting safety at Hallmark Health System

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Safety Counts April 2014 - Download entire PDF by clicking here. 

New ID wristbands add 'charm' to patient safety

In late February, Hallmark Health System (HHS) inpatients started sporting new ID wristbands aimed at improving patient safety and comfort. The new wristband looks a bit like a charm bracelet with several snap-on, color-coded tabs to let clinicians know of special risks associated with the patient wearing it.The colors of the snap-ons reflect a national colorcoding standard now used in most states in the U.S. (though not yet in Massachusetts).

The move to the national standard began at HHS in the Emergency Department (ED). “An ED nurse came to our Nursing Practice Quality Council and proposed that we change,” said Diane Hanley, RN, associate CNO for Practice, Quality and Education. “She mentioned that some nurses in the ED also work at other hospitals that used a different color-coding system and so different colors meant different things. There was clearly the potential to misinterpret the color codes and jeopardize patient safety so we opted to switch to the national standard.”

The snap-on type of wristband was chosen, said Hanley,“because it is both color-coded and each tab has the name of the risk imprinted on it – on the purple tab,for example, it also says ‘DNR.’ Nurses seem to really like this improvement.” Patients seem to like it as well since those with multiple risk factors need to wear only one wristband.
 
The wristbands are assembled by nurses for each patient. “Each time a patient moves – from the ED to a patient floor, for example – the wristbands are checked again. And a new tab can be added if a new risk becomes apparent,” said Hanley.

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