Storage Devices and RFID Applications in Healthcare

Current Uses Of RFID

RFID has many uses around the world. It is used not only in the healthcare industry, but also for human or animal identification, transportation payments, product tracking and service industry applications. Though of course there are many more other uses of RFID.

RFID in Healthcare

It can be categorized as:
         1)   Patient tracking and identification
         2)      Asset and Equipment management and tracking
         3)      Reducing drug and blood administration errors

Patient Tracking and Identification

Patients wear wristbands that are fitted with RFID tags, which contain information such as
         ·         name
         ·         gender
         ·         date of birth
         ·         date of admission
         ·         medical record number
Nurses use a PDA equipped with a portable RFID reader to scan the wristband. This will help to positively identify the patients and extract necessary information if needed. The RFID system will also track the patient’s whereabouts, improving patient’s safety.

During the SARS period, a tracking system was implemented in the Accident & Emergency (A&E) department at Alexandra Hospital. Patients, visitors and staff were issued a card embedded with an RFID chip. This helps to track the whereabouts of those in the hospitals. In any case that there was a suspected SARS patient, anyone in close proximity with the patient could be easily tracked, thus preventing further outbreak of the virus.

Asset and Equipment Management and Tracking

Some medical equipments are RFID-tagged. The active tag system in the medical equipment transmits signals to wall-mounted readers. By doing so, the location of the equipments can be easily determined. Basically the purpose is to locate the equipments easily, in case the doctors or nurses need it urgently and cannot find where it is. The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston is an example which uses such services of the RFID to keep track of their medical equipments.

Reducing Drug and Blood Administration Errors

By having the patients RFID-tagged, this allows the nurses to correctly identify patients before administering any drugs or schedule for any surgeries. Also, this helps to reduce medication errors. In Georgetown University Hospital, a study was done to test if RFID would increase safety and reliability of blood transfusion, and the test showed positive results.

Hospital Operating Rooms


ClearCount Medical actually introduced the SmartSponge System in 2008. This consists of electronic reader and high frequency RFID-tagged disposable gauzes, sponges and towels. This helps to reduce or eliminate common surgical errors. In the event that a sponge is missing during the surgery, the SmartSponge system helps to quickly identify the specific sponge, preventing wasted time and unnecessary risk.

Potential Uses Of RFID

Currently, RFID is tagged differently to patients and equipments and so on, but the future vision of RFID is that all of these will be linked in one way or another, hence increasing efficiency.
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