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Starting in April, more patients at Roswell Park will receive a thermal paper wristband when they come in for appointments.

Patient safety wristband pilot now expanding throughout Roswell Park

Starting in April, more people at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center will be wearing patient safety wristbands.

Previously, these wristbands were given to anyone admitted for treatment, including patients receiving chemotherapy or having surgery. Now, new patients, in addition to those coming in for scans, bloodwork or other follow-up care, will be given one as they check in and will receive a new one each time they return.

“It’s another component of creating the safest environment we can for our patients to receive care,” says Shirley Johnson, MBA, MS, RN, NEA-BC, Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical Operations Officer at Roswell Park. “Historically, all our inpatients have had wristbands with identifying information they are required to wear while on the floors, but we have not had a consistent practice of having patients wear wristbands as they traverse the ambulatory experience.”

Currently, patients need to present two identifiers when checking in for appointments. Now, patients will receive a waterproof, thermal paper wristband when they arrive, and with each appointment during their visit, a sticker will be placed on the band. Each sticker will contain the patient’s name, date of birth, medical record and case identification number, the scheduled service and a barcode linking to the patient’s digital files.

“This will allow us to have that extra checkpoint between patients’ identification and what their medication administration record says they should be getting based on their identity,” Johnson says. “This will ensure safe delivery of care in the moment as they are receiving different medications, therapies and other treatments.”

If a patient comes in for treatment in one area of the center but, for example, is in pain and needs something to manage that, a scan of the wristband’s barcode will help a nurse or other caregiver determine which medications are acceptable for that patient, says Ashley Keppel, MSN, AS, RN, BSN, Clinical Nurse Manager of the Gastrointestinal Center in Ambulatory Services.

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The bands also will help provide some consistency for patients, Keppel adds. “We already use wristbands when they go for chemotherapy and other places in the center, and it might be confusing for patients who wonder why they get wristbands in some places but not others.”

Both Johnson and Keppel stress that the Roswell Park employee who puts the wristband on the patient will be wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer, and the patient also will be wearing a mask, making this a safe interaction. If any patients would prefer to put on their own wristbands, or have someone accompanying them put it on for them, that will be fine as well.

The wristbands will be used throughout the center, for inpatients and outpatients alike, as is the standard practice in cancer centers across the country, Johnson says.

“This is a safe place and we’re making it safer by adopting this wristband policy,” she says. “Our patients are precious.”