Patient tracking during surgery
In 2015, system integrator RFID Canada installed UHF long range readers from Feig Electronic in the adjacent areas and transitions of 19 operating rooms. The aim is to track the approximately 13,500 annual surgical patients on their way to surgical preparation, to the operating theater, to the recovery room and subsequently back to the ward. “There used to be handwritten documentation on patient whereabouts during operating processes, which were not available in real time. This delay was fine because the nursing staff primarily takes care of patients. Nevertheless, there were process challenges, and patients had to wait longer than necessary in one of the surgical areas,” says Ellie Lee, explaining the reasons for the RFID deployment.
“RFID makes it possible to locate patients in the operating room in real time – so numerous improvements in patient care are feasible. In addition, family members are quickly informed on the status of the operation without involving additional human resources.” – Ellie Lee, Manager OR Information Management Services, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
The trick with the file
Instead of providing the patient with an RFID wristband, there are two transponders on the patients file cover. “On the one hand, there is the risk that the patients’ arm is under the patient’s body. Then, transponder detection is hardly possible. On the other hand, in hospital, patient records are always transported together with the patient,” Ellie Lee summarises, going on to explain: “We use two transponders on the patient file in horizontal and vertical alignment. So we ensure the best possible registration. It was important that the transponder looks official – with a logo and a serial number printed on it.
During our initial tests with blank transponders, the staff was confused, they thought the transponders were tape and removed them. “Emergency patients coming into the operating room without medical records, will have a Plexiglas plate put on their beds’ clip board where two transponders are attached. After leaving the surgical area, the file covers are thrown into special containers so that they can be reprocessed (cleaned) and reused. “If a patient is noted as ‘dismissed’ in the system and the file cover was forgotten and not taken off the bed, the exit antennas will signal an alarm. Practically no items get lost.”