Uniform colors seen as way to discern wristbands' intent

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Uniform colors seen as way to discern wristbands' intent
Uniform colors seen as way to discern wristbands' intent
Healthcare systems should adopt more uniform color-coding of patient wristbands or implement barcode systems to reduce potential for errors across inpatient settings, nursing experts say.

Color-coded wristbands are  a common and efficient way of conveying to nurses and others an individual's health needs or end-of-life wishes. But recent reports suggest that their lack of uniformity from setting to setting can give rise to medical errors, according to Food and Drug Administration nursing consultants.

For example, a red wristband could indicate a patient with a do-not-resuscitate order in one hospital, while representing a latex allergy in a nursing home. This becomes problematic for seniors who frequently transition from one setting to the other. Failure to remove a hospital bracelet upon admission to a nursing home could have deadly consequences, warn FDA consultants Cynthia Bushee, RN, BSN, and Crystal Lewis, RN, BS on Nurse.com.

To avoid confusion, several states have initiated efforts to standardize the color-coding of patient wristbands across care settings.

In the meantime, Bushee and Lewis advise providers to have policies in place that mandate the removal of colored wristbands upon admission to any new facility, whether that means a wristband from another provider or bracelets worn for charitable organizations or social causes.