Thibodaux Regional Medical Center
Center Enforces Bedside Medication Verification with Wristband Solution
Durable, Flexible Bands Prevent Workarounds and Contribute to High Scan Rates
In Thibodaux, La., Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, a 185-bed acute care facility, provides inpatient and outpatient care for the people of Lafourche and seven surrounding parishes. For the third consecutive year, J.D. Power and Associates recognized the center for service excellence under the Distinguished Hospital Program, acknowledging Thibodaux Regional's strong commitment to provide "An Outstanding Patient Experience" for inpatient and outpatient services.
To achieve and maintain its award-winning reputation, Thibodaux has progressed on several key initiatives in recent years. The medical center has increasingly moved toward a more paperless environment and brought in bedside medication verification (BMV).
With those strides, the hospital knew it needed to upgrade its approach to patient wristbands as well. Paper labels created paper waste, and didn't hold up well in the hospital environment.
"With each admission we were printing labels and slapping a sticker on a plain wristband," said Maria Clause, R.N., clinical analyst. "The paper labels would get wet and wear off quickly. We needed a reliable way to produce patient wristbands that scanned 100 percent of the time and didn't degrade."
Moreover, Thibodaux sought a solution that would help prevent nurse workarounds in BMV.
Soon after moving to bedside medication verification, Clause first heard about the Zebra® HC100™ Patient I.D. Solution at an industry conference. The HC100 combines a direct thermal printer with easy-to-load cartridges containing Zebra's durable Z-Band® wristbands. Hospital staff just pop cartridges into the printer to produce wristbands with barcodes and text that stay readable well after paper would degrade.
To test durability, the medical center first tried the bands on nurses, who wore them for a couple of weeks without noticing any degrading. With that success, the hospital brought printers into admissions and the emergency room.
As part of the decision, Thibodaux compared the costs of printing paper labels and the HC100 printers and found them comparable, especially given the rate at which staff had to reprint their paper labels.
Before moving to Zebra printers, labels included a single 1-D barcode, requiring hospital staff to manipulate patient wrists to scan them. Now, with the ability to easily configure exactly what goes on patient I.D. bands, Thibodaux prints smaller 2-D barcodes around the entire perimeter of each wristband for easier scanning without having to move the patient's wrist. They can also easily increase or decrease font sizes, or adjust printed information, such as the name, account number and date of birth that are used for positive patient identification.
In the nursery, the hospital uses infant Zebra Z-Band QuickClip™ wristbands in a soft nylon material for babies' sensitive skin.
Additionally, the hospital can flexibly add important care information on each band, such as medication allergies. To assist with that, Thibodaux also uses colored clips so caregivers have a visual reminder regarding specific patient care needs like allergies, Fall Risk, and Limb Alerts.
Mindful that nurses—ever efficient—sometimes find workarounds to processes, the medical center put a plan in place to ensure that nurses take all steps required for BMV. In particular, they wanted to prevent nurses from scanning barcodes from patient folders instead of patient wristbands—as is required for BMV.
Well before the hospital implemented BMV, Thibodaux conducted extensive research to understand potential workarounds in the industry. In response, Thibodaux flexibly used the Zebra solution to add a special "check" digit to the 2-D barcodes on patient wristbands. When nurses administer medication, they are only able to scan the wristband for patient identification. barcodes from chart forms will not scan, ensuring they are unable to circumvent the process.
"Before we went live, we knew about potential workarounds and put a plan in place—a checkpoint between the nurse and patient that protects patient safety," said Danna Caillouet, physician analyst, R.N. "That was a huge win for us. We're a step ahead of everyone else at conferences because we did so much homework prior to our implementation."
The bands are so durable and easy to scan, we've had no failures in scanning.
Vail Resorts officially launched the Easy Scan system in August of 2008 for all resorts. In total, it installed 268 Zebra printers across its corporate fulfillment center, retail locations and resorts. In the Spring of 2008, guests began buying Epic Passes online and in person. During their peak, the central office printed more than 10,000 full-color graphics UHF passes a day.
When resorts opened that November, the system performed exactly as designed in the mountain conditions. Lift staff simply point handheld scanners at zipped jackets to read the passes. "While it was a very complex project for us to design/implement, to our guests it seems simple and is working flawlessly," Shenberger said.
Vail Resorts accomplished three key goals in implementing the Easy Scan system. Resorts can now better understand aggregate skier behavior patterns in a manner never before possible. This provides the resorts with information that can be used to further improve the guest experience in the future.
The company also reduced season pass fraud due to increased information available at the time of scanning. Lift staff see a photo of the person on the handheld scanner and can ask questions to verify identity. Resorts reported up to a dramatic increase over prior years in the number of instances of fraud detected.
Yet the greatest gains have come in the guest experience, the ability to offer ease of lift access that is unmatched by other ski resorts. Guests are able to move faster through the scanning process as a result.
"It's been a home run. Families with children don't have to unzip jackets or drop poles to scan passes," Shenberger said. "We positively changed the dynamic of how ski resorts interact with guests – and more importantly, we gave our guests a way to focus on why they're visiting our resorts – the experience, the epic skiing and the scenic beauty of the mountains – rather than on the scanning and lift validation process.