Provider officials encourage use of DNR wristbands

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A string of nursing home deaths related to do-not-resuscitate order confusion has prompted Kentucky healthcare officials to encourage the use of color-coded wristbands to reduce mistakes.

Since 2007, at least seven Kentucky nursing homes have received citations for alleged resuscitation-related mistakes, even though residents' end-of-life wishes were on file in their official charts, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported. After requests from family members of the deceased, the Kentucky Office of the Inspector General and the Kentucky Hospital Association are working to encourage nursing homes and hospitals to give residents with DNR requests purple wristbands clearly labeled DNR. The use of the bands is not required, just encouraged.

Both healthcare groups say workers who use the wristbands in their facilities are taught not to rely on the patient's wristband alone: They also need to verify the resident's wishes by checking the chart. To encourage nursing homes to participate in the wristband program, the state is giving out an initial supply of the bands for free.