PDC Thermal Wristbands are Lab Tested to Perform in Demanding Healthcare Environment

Healthcare providers are constantly evaluating patient safety standards to improve methods to reduce medical errors. Identification plays an important role here, specifically with the use of barcode technology to ensure a patient is receiving the correct care at the correct time. Research has shown that using barcoded patient ID wristbands can reduce medical errors by 86%.123

The most critical job of a patient identification wristband is to ensure that the healthcare provider identifies the correct patient when providing care in order to minimize any possible medical errors. For this to happen, the printed text and barcode needs to remain functional and scannable throughout the patient’s stay. The image density of the print cannot be compromised when exposed to the hospital environment. 

PDC performs extensive laboratory testing on our medical grade thermal wristbands, such as ScanBand® DR and ScanBand® Soft, simulating the environmental conditions that the wristbands would be exposed to in a healthcare setting. These tests help our scientists ensure the wristband performance meets high quality standards and the patient safety needs of healthcare providers. The tests include chemical abrasion testing, long-term soak testing, and wear testing.  

Chemical Abrasion Testing 

Wristbands can be exposed to a variety of chemicals during the course of a patient’s stay at a hospital. Some of these chemicals are alcohol-based, which tend to degrade the printed image of direct thermal wristbands. PDC internal lab testing uses a recognized testing standard (ASTM D5264-92: Standard Practice for Abrasion Resistance of Printed Materials by the Sutherland Rub Tester) to test the abrasion resistance of the printed materials by rubbing the wristband against common chemicals a wristband could encounter in a healthcare facility. 

Test Results: The study concluded that Scanband® is not affected after 10 double rubs against common chemicals. These include 70%-91% Isopropyl Alcohol, Hand Sanitizer, Hydrogen Peroxide, and Saline Solution. 

Long-Term Soak Testing 

During the course of the average patient stay, patient wristbands are exposed to daily showers or baths, which can also compromise the printed image. To simulate this environment, PDC subjects wristbands that have printed information and barcodes to an accelerated soak/dry cycle test. A single soak/dry cycle is designed to simulate a one daily shower or bath, and the cycle is performed by immersing the looped, secured wristbands into warm water or soap water solution for 15 minutes, followed by a 45 minute dry time. By repeating this soak/dry cycle, one can simulate the effect of repeated daily showers or baths on the printed image durability. 

Test Results: The tests indicated that Scanband® performed noticeably better than a comparable wristband. The long-term soak had less of an effect on the Scanband® barcode decodability and image durability.

Wear Testing 

While laboratory testing can provide valuable insights into the durability of wristbands, PDC completes wear testing using PDC employees to capture the effect of factors that are not easily captured in laboratory testing. The purpose of this test is to show that if the wristbands can meet our performance requirements after 10 days of being worn by active adults, healthcare providers can be confident that the wristbands will endure the rigors of a healthcare facility. 

Test Results: After running tests with both Scanband® and a leading competitor’s wristband, PDC found that Scanband’s barcode scannability and image density outperformed a competitive wristband. The competitor’s wristband experienced noticeable fading of the barcode and patient information by the fourth day, while Scanband® experienced little to no fading by the end of the eighth day.  

Lab-Tested, Dependable Identification

An accurate and reliable patient identification wristband is a crucial component to maximizing patient safety and quality of care. Scanband® Thermal Patient ID Wristbands meet the healthcare industry’s need for a long-lasting, reliable wristband. They help healthcare staff feel confident they’re accurately identifying patients, while helping them efficiently connect the patient to their care plan. 


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Source(s): 1 Malcolm B, Carlson RA, Tucker CL, et al. Veterans Affairs: eliminating medication errors through point-of-care devices. Paper presented at: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference; 2001 Apr; Dallas (TX). Vol. 2 (Session 73): 218–26. 2 Puckett F. Medication-management component of a point-of-care information system. Am J Health Syst Pharm 1995 Jun 15;52(12):1305-9.  3 Johnson CL, Carlson RA, Tucker CL, et al. Using BCMA software to improve patient safety in Veterans Administration Medical Centers. J Healthc Inf Manage 2002 Winter;16(1):46-51.