BRMC to adopt new wristband program

For a year and a half, the Arkansas Hospital Association has worked on a new color-coded wristband program to ensure greater patient safety. That program is expected to launch at Baxter Regional Medical Center Oct. 1.
A 2008 incident in Pennsylvania prompted the move toward standardization in Arkansas. According to the AHA Web site, confusion regarding wristband color resulted in a patient being labeled "Do Not Resuscitate" in error.

Three different-colored clips will now be used by hospitals throughout Arkansas to identify the top three patient risk groups:

  • Red for allergies
  • Yellow for fall risk
  • Purple for Do Not Resuscitate
  • Wynne Armstrong, registered nurse and learning coordinator for electronic medical records at BRMC, has completed training hospital staff on the program and turned her attention to volunteers and the general public, a group of whom attended a seminar at the hospital Thursday.

    "Wristbands have become more and more important," Armstrong said, "not only for safer care, but to ensure that we abide by the patient's wishes."

    Falls account for more than 70 percent of injuries in health care settings among people 60 and older, Armstrong says.

    "We take fall risks very seriously," she said. "People are often weaker when they come to the hospital or on medications that affect balance. We take extra precautions so we're there when you're moving around."

    The regular white wristband will continue to be used, and colored, triangular clips will be attached when appropriate. When scanned, the bar code currently in use on wristbands provides health care workers with complete details about the reason for the clip.

    Armstrong says patients will be asked to remove any other bracelets that may cause confusion, such as the social cause bracelets that come in many colors.

    Patients who refuse to wear a wristband must sign a waiver that they have chosen not to comply with a state regulation and understand they may be compromising their safety.

    The new wristband program works in conjunction with the electronic medical records BRMC began creating April 21. Electronic medical records allow any caregiver, with a right to know, access to complete information about a patient. Several professionals can view the information at the same time — for example, the doctor, nurse, pharmacist, lab or therapist.

    Armstrong made it clear that caregivers have access only to the information they need to provide care, not to the entire record. Access depends on the health care relationship a person has to the patient and the plan for the patient's care.

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