RFID Systems Beyond the Obstetrics Unit

Officials in emergency departments, rehabilitation units and other parts of a hospital know how to care for agitated patients, who may be a risk to themselves or to others. While these patients represent a small minority, they consume a disproportionate amount of time for medical and security staff and can pose a significant liability risk to the hospital.

Patient wandering is a main concern, and those patients are at risk of serious harm from becoming lost or wandering into traffic. In the emergency department, some may leave against medical advice.

One solution to help manage this group of high-risk patients is the use of RFID technology, the same successful technology that protects newborns from abductions.

In a typical application, each patient requiring protection wears a small RFID tag on the wrist or ankle. These tags send out signals that are picked up by a network of receivers covering the department.

Exits from the department are protected by exit monitors. An alarm is generated if the patient approaches an exit or removes the tag or if signals are lost.

A key difference between the systems used for infants and for adults is the tag.

The adult tag is much more robust and designed to withstand tugging without generating a nuisance alarm. However, if the tag is removed, an alarm is generated.

This RFID technology is well adapted to adult patients because it is designed to provide individual protection. In contrast to general access control measures that affect everyone, and may interfere with the delivery of medical care, these RFID technology efforts are tightly focused on those few patients who really need protection.

About the Author

Steven Elder is senior communications specialist for Stanley Healthcare Solutions.

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