New patient bands on the rise

Published 11:09 pm Friday, August 28, 2009

For hospital administrators, patient safety is number one.

And now they are backing up that claim with a new patient band system that will help identify and prevent future crises from ever occurring.

Back in the spring, Southampton Memorial Hospital launched a new program that gave patients colored wristbands to convey clinical information such as allergies or risk of falls.

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“It’s actually worked very well for us,” said David Fuller, CEO of Southampton Memorial. “The staff has done a great job of helping patients understand the system. At the end of the day, we are really committed to trying to keep you safe, and it gives us an avenue to communicate that this is about keeping you safe.”

Southampton was just on the front end of what is a statewide initiative.

Soon all Sentara hospitals – including Suffolk’s Sentara Obici hospital – will be adopting a similar program, according to Sentara Public Relations Consultant Gloria Seitz.

“This is a very big initiative,” Seitz said. “It’s actually a national initiative that’s coming to the state and the (Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association) has been very supportive of it.”

Seitz said the new band system will work hand-in-hand with patient safety precautions that Sentara has put in place.

“I think Sentara really has worked in patient safety in many dimensions and this is simply an initiative from the national level, and now from the state level, that is sort of marrying with all of our patient safety initiatives. It’s preserving patients’ safety and it’s beneficial.”

Seitz does not have an exact date for the launch of the band program, but said Sentara officials are working on a strategy and timeline for implementing the program.

“Part of the challenge is really going through the staff education aspect, and reorienting them with the colors to be used and the system,” Seitz said. “We don’t have a definitive completion date, but that implementation team is now in place and now meeting on regular basis.”

Fuller credited his staff and the extra steps taken to make sure they fully understood the new band system for its success.

“Initially there was some resistance from patients because we went from one ID to now multiple ones,” Fuller said. “But I have to give my staff credit, they really pulled out all the stops with their team on this issue to educate everyone on our staff so they in turn could educate the patients as they went about it.”