Electronic Design

RFID Chip Helps Prevent Surgical Mixups

Despite protocols that include signatures, "time outs" for doctors, and identification wristbands, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations still receives five to eight new reports of wrong-site surgery each month. This is where the Surgichip steps in. Designed by an orthopedic surgeon, this adhesive tag uses RFID technology to identify the correct patient, procedure, and body part in the operating room.

Prior to surgery, the patient meets with a member of the medical staff. That member programs the Surgichip with vital information--patient name, date of surgery, surgical site, operation description, and the surgeon's name. The chip can store up to 256 characters. If more information is necessary, the staff member can apply a second chip. That staff member then scans the chip with an RFID reader, and the patient confirms the programmed information. Unlike handwriting, which could be illegible, the reader produces clear, typed script that's easy to read and hard to misinterpret.

On the day of surgery, the chip is scanned and the patient reconfirms the information. The chip is then applied to the skin with adhesive at the intended point of incision. It's left in place as the patient is transported to the operating room. There, the surgical team scans the chip and reviews the information. Once the accuracy of the chip is confirmed, it's removed and placed on the patient's chart, and surgery can begin. These redundancies may seem excessive, yet they could go far in preventing unnecessary or incorrect procedures. For details, go to www.surgichip.com.

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