Standard Color-Coding for Patient Wristbands Gains Support

Color-coded wristbands are becoming a standard hospital best practice. The challenge is getting all hospitals to use wristbands in the same way. I wrote last summer about such an effort in Arizona.

Now comes a report from
The People’s Defender that a similar effort is taking place in Ohio.

Adams County Regional Medical Center is joining other hospitals, nursing homes, ambulatory facilities and emergency medical services across the state in standardizing wristbands used to identify certain patient conditions, such as allergies or the risk for falls, as recommended by the Ohio Patient Safety Institute (OPSI)…

According to a survey of Ohio hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes and ambulatory surgical centers conducted in November 2006 by an OPSI-created task force, health care providers have been using 19 different colors with 28 different meanings.

Band Color Communicates: white/clear - patient identification; red - allergy; yellow - fall risk; and green - blood product.

ACRMC plans to implement the new statewide standard on March 10, following health information system updates and detailed staff training.

The state-mandated wristband color for DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) is currently undergoing review, with a recommendation from OPSI pending.

The statewide wristband standardization is endorsed by the Ohio Patient Safety Institute, Ohio Hospital Association, Ohio State Medical Association, Ohio Osteopathic Association and Ohio Board of Nursing, Ohio Academy of Nursing Homes and Association of Ohio Philanthropic Homes, Housing and Services for the Aging.

One question: Is there some way of developing a national standard?

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