Groundbreaking Armbands Improve Patient Safety


The NEW SuperSoft ID Bands from Medirex Systems receive rave reviews from Canadian hospitals.

In any healthcare environment, it’s second nature: before performing a procedures medical task, the first step is to check a patient’s armband to ensure the right patient receives the right test, drug or procedure at the right time.

But what if the writing on the armband is smudged or hard to read, or the patient is wearing multiple armbands – and for a moment you find the colours confusing? This is especially true in the case of Canada’s growing elderly population, where seniors are often identified as ‘at risk’ patients for more than one reason and can therefore wear as many as three or four armbands at a time.

Would it surprise you to learn that armbands, the very tool designed to improve patient safety and reduce risk of error, have the potential to do just the opposite?

According to a survey by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, coloured armbands can cause confusion. In one instance, the study found that a patient allergy went unnoticed, causing him to go into anaphylactic shock despite the fact he was wearing a colour-coded bracelet to alert clinicians to his allergy. In another case, an armband designating ‘restricted extremity’ was mistaken as ‘do not resuscitate (DNR)’. A separate U.S.-based study discovered that illegible information on armbands accounted for 24 per cent of all armband-related errors.

“Medirex’s groundbreaking new armband is receiving
worldwide attention for its super-softness, low cost and ability
to increase patient safety.”

With all of this attention being paid to the wrist, a Canadian company is taking steps to solve patient identification issues, applying Canadian resources to develop a groundbreaking new armband that is receiving worldwide attention for its super-softness, low cost and ability to increase patient safety. Medirex Systems, a leading healthcare solutions provider, has launched a SuperSoft armband that is water and chemical proof, and can be comfortably worn for up to 25 days longer than current armbands without causing skin irritation, cuts, nicks or sores, or losing legibility. The easily-printable bands also remove the need to use multiple coloured armbands.

St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Elliot Lake, Ontario, for example, is using Medirex armbands to distinguish between only two patient populations – those at risk and those not at risk – by adding a single red border band to the white armbands to alert clinicians to at-risk patients. Clinicians then rely on information contained in the armband’s barcode or hospital information system to correctly identify the risk, a proven best practice adopted by Medirex.

“Our raison d’être for selecting Medirex was to find an armband solution that was legible and long-lasting”

“Our raison d’être for selecting Medirex was to find an armband solution that was legible and long-lasting, that could accurately and readily identify patients,” said Pierre Ozolins, St. Joseph’s Assistant Executive Director, Patient Care Services. “What is the benefit of a readable armband? Nobody really knows the value until you have a catastrophic event that could have been avoided.”

According to Ryan Crocker, one of three regional managers of health information at Newfoundland’s Western Health, “the Medirex armbands are very different from anything else we looked at.” He noted that the product is so soft, he was surprised by its durability, and with cost savings associated with the armband, “we couldn’t afford not to use it,” he said.

At Georgian Bay General Hospital in Ontario, the Medirex armbands – which they describe as having a similar feel to fabric – are being used to identify all outpatients, and have allowed the hospital to move from a four-armband system to a single armband with two colour-coded stickers for alerts, all printable on a single sheet of paper.

As an added advantage, the Medirex armbands make barcode solutions affordable for those hospitals that have yet to implement bedside scanning due to the high cost of other products. Rather than creating the need for revamping an existing system, Medirex armbands include software that interfaces to existing systems, printing armbands and labels from a laser printer in a readable, customizable format that makes it easy to enforce to standards.

More information about the new SuperSoft ID Bands by Medirex can be found at here.