UTHSCT implements standardized colored wristbands to ensure patient safety

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

While many advances in the safety of hospital patients as well as improvements in the quality of care they receive require the latest technology, one major step forward relies on a brightly colored ring of plastic: the simple armband surrounding an inpatient’s wrist.

All hospitals have long used colored armbands to alert medical personnel to different risks that inpatients faced, such as allergies to medications or certain foods.

However, until recently a standardized wristband system – where one color means the same thing regardless of the hospital – was nonexistent.

That is no longer the case in Texas, where the Texas Hospital Association’s board has developed a standardized, color-coded patient wristband system, which it is recommending that all Texas hospitals adopt.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler is the first hospital in the Tyler area to use this standardized system, UTHSCT President Dr. Kirk A. Calhoun said.

Dr. Calhoun sits on the THA board, and he wanted UTHSCT to waste no time in adopting the new standard.

“We have adopted the standardized colors recommended by the THA, because we want to do everything we can to ensure our patients are safe. This is a simple step statewide that will add an extra level of protection for patients who may be at risk for falls or who are allergic to a specific medication,” Dr. Calhoun said.

Nurses and other health care providers often work at more than one facility, and if these facilities use different color-coded systems, it can be confusing, Dr. Calhoun said.

For example, a patient at risk for falling may wear an orange wristband at one hospital, whereas another hospital may use a yellow wristband to mark patients at risk for falling.

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