Multiple Wristbands, Multiple Problems

Salem Hospital in Oregon is a Magnet® designated hospital, a recognition achieved by approximately 8% of all registered hospitals in the United States. This means a key focus for Salem Health nursing leaders is aligning strategic nursing goals to the organization’s patient outcomes and care. They enable organizational change from all levels and departments in the hospital. 

One such initiative began with a clinical nurse in the mother baby unit, Jennifer Graham BSN, RNC-MNN. Jen noticed patients in her department often wore a plethora of wristbands, including: their own patient ID band, their baby’s ID band, a blood band, a fall risk band, and, for many, an allergy band. The patients complained the bands interfered with breastfeeding and caring for their newborns and themselves. 

Recognizing an opportunity for improvement across multiple units, Jen initiated a request to the professional governance steering council on patient wristbands. The practice council gathered members from all nursing units and unanimously agreed that multiple patient wristbands were very problematic. 

To understand the scope of the problem, Nancy Dunn, MS, RN, the clinical excellence coordinator, coordinated an organization-wide data collection. She quickly discovered the issue was pervasive, spanning most units in the hospital. Out of a random 216 patients observed, patients wore an average of 2.7 wristbands, with as many as seven on a single patient. 

“Having multiple wristbands on patients interfered with IV access, placement and maintenance,” Nancy said. “Additionally, if the wristbands slipped up the arm or overlapped, it posed a potential patient safety issue if a band became hidden and a nurse didn’t see it.” 

The team set a goal to reduce the average number of wristbands by 35%, turning to PDC Ident-Alert® snaps to help achieve this target. 

The Solution

PDC color-coded Ident-Alert snaps and wraps help eliminate the need for multiple alert wristbands. They are snapped or wrapped around a patient’s existing ID wristband, consolidating the alerts to one band for better IV access, patient comfort, and patient care. There are snap and/or wrap solutions for thermal and laser printed ID wristbands, and the alerts meet all standardization guidelines and color standards. 

Alert Snaps with patient ID wristband

The Salem Hospital Product Evaluation Standard Committee tested PDC Ident-Alert snaps in a few different units. Not only was the number of wristbands reduced, but the team also received nothing but positive comments about the change.

“The staff, patients and providers were just enamored. They loved the new wristbands and snaps,” Nancy said. “They wanted to keep using them even after the testing period ended! That’s how popular they were.”

The PDC Ident-Alert snaps proved to have more benefits than just reducing the number of wristbands. 

“We also love them because they’re durable yet soft – they’re comfortable,” Nancy added. “And, because the snaps are easy to see and understand in one glance, nurses are immediately informed of any warnings.” 

The Results

Salem Hospital removed the old product the same day they officially introduced the new snaps. They successfully reduced the average number of wristbands per patient to 1.28, a 48% reduction. 

“This change all began with one nurse who cared enough about the patient experience,” Nancy said. “Thanks to her voice, we were able to drive organizational change and an overall better experience for our patients.”

Salem Hospital Reduces Use of Multiple Patient Wristbands for Better Patient Care
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Salem Hospital Reduces Use of Multiple Patient Wristbands for Better Patient Care
Learn how Salem Hospital reduced the number of patient ID wristbands their patients wore by almost 50%, increasing patient comfort and easing IV access.
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