Location-based technologies in healthcare safety

Ensuring patients and staff safety is a primary concern in many healthcare facilities. Risks are plentiful, including the spread of infections, elopement of patients unable to care for themselves, and physical violence on the staff at emergency departments. Location-based technologies can provide solutions to some of these problems.

Patient Safety

Healthcare Patch: WheelchairAmbulatory patients under care at hospitals and  healthcare institutions sometimes present special challenges for caregivers.  For example, patients with cognitive disorders, dementia or under special medication may be at risk of walking away unnoticed or enter a location where they are not easily spotted, such as a service closet.   As a result, time and resources are spent searching for patients that put themselves and others at risk.

Another critical group of patients whose whereabouts must be tracked are newborn infants.  Preventing abduction by detecting unauthorized movement of infants is essential in hospital settings.

Solution:  Providing patients with Wi-Fi tags in a hospital bracelet, clipped to  their clothes, or on a lanyard is an effective tool for tracking every patients’ location.  Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor can locate and track all active Wi-Fi tags everywhere, enabling the implementation of geo-fencing rules.  For example, if there is a need to confine a patient to a specific floor or area, alarms can be triggered upon rule violation.

Emergency Response

Another common problem occurs when patients who need immediate assistance are unable to be heard, ring a bell or use a phone.  For example, a patient could  fall down, unable to get up, in an area that is not visible to staff members.

Solution:  Providing patients with Wi-Fi tags in a hospital bracelet, clipped to  their clothes, or on a lanyard is an effective tool for tracking the patients’ locations.  Wi-Fi tags with push-buttons can be used to implement a “wireless nurse call” function to summon help.  Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor locates and tracks active Wi-Fi tags, and provides the functionality to generate alarms at the push of a button.

Infection Control

Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI), a.k.a. Healthcare Associated Infections, is one of the leading causes of death for hospitalized patients worldwide.

Infection Prevention and Control is concerned with preventing and managing infections spread in healthcare facilities.  Infection Control is a practical sub-discipline of epidemiology that is part of the health care infrastructure.  It addresses the factors that contribute to the spread of infections within the health care delivery system: patient to patient, patient to caregiver, caregiver to patient and amongst caregivers.

Infection control includes prevention (hand hygiene, vaccination and surveillance), outbreak investigation of actual or suspected spread, and management (handling of outbreaks). The business impact is clear: potential legal liability, risk of non-compliance with healthcare standards and exposure to high HAI treatment costs.

Solution:  Accuware Wi-Fi Location Monitor’s ability to historically track with high resolution the whereabouts of staff, patients and equipment can provide the information necessary to investigate an outbreak and determine its spread.  Rapidly identifying who has been in contact with an infected person is readily available from historical data.  Alerts and escalations built on evolving data can assist in early detection and containment.  Compliance reports can also be generated using this data.

Staff Duress / Panic

Ensuring staff members’ safety is very challenging for any hospital or healthcare facility, as episodes of physical violence are a real problem for them.  This is especially true of emergency departments (ED), which have long been considered high-risk areas.

For example, findings from a surveillance study on ED violence from 2009 through 2011 by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) says that according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “46% of all non-fatal assaults and violent acts requiring days away from work were committed against registered nurses”.  In addition, “The emergency department is one of the most dangerous work settings in health care for nurses due to violence from patients and visitors”.  Both physical (11%) and verbal (54%) abuse incidents were reported in the 7-day period prior to the survey.  Perpetrators were patients (97+%) under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or were psychiatric patients.

Solution:  Hospital staff can be provided with Wi-Fi tags with push-buttons.   Each tag can be associated with a specific staff member.  In case of emergency, a simple button push can be delivered to summon assistance, automatically providing the staff member location anywhere in the facility.  In addition, the alert can be used to record the event and trigger the appropriate escalation procedures .

Positive Patient Identification

Positive patient identification (PPID) is a challenge in hospitals and healthcare facilities that can be overcome by tight procedures supported by the right technologies.  Medicine pills

PPID’s benefits are speed, efficiency and the elimination of errors.  PPID is particularly important for activities such as the collection of specimens, delivery of treatment (e.g. anesthesia and surgery) and administration of medication.  The most important features of a good PPID solution are simplicity and ease of use.

Solution:  Providing patients with a Wi-Fi tag uniquely associated with the patient at the point of registration can provide, not only the patient’s location at all times, but also the mechanism to deliver simple and effective patient identification.  Accuware Magic Touch provides the functionality needed at the patient registration desk, and later on, to effect the positive identification everywhere.

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