Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust (SaTH) has improved the management of beds and other medical devices with the help of an RFiD Discovery system. The trust is using active RFID to track the movements of a total of 1309 medical devices including 846 beds at its two hospitals, the Royal Shrewsbury and the Princess Royal in Telford.

Prior to the implementation of RFID, keeping track of beds and other medical devices at SaTH used to be a real challenge. Nigel Watkinson, Medical Engineering Manager for the Trust, comments:

“RFiD Discovery enables our technicians to locate beds and other mobile devices quickly, so they can focus on their core tasks of servicing and repair.”

Each bed or device is fitted with an active RFID tag which broadcasts its unique ID at regular intervals. Signals are picked up by fixed readers as well as mobile handheld readers used by clinical technicians to audit wards. Information is sent back to a central database which shows the location where each asset was last ‘seen’ by the system. This way the team regularly captures the locations of 95% of all tagged equipment.

Clinical staff really like the system as they are able to locate devices quicker and this means more time is available for patient care. At the same time utilisation levels of devices have improved. This has helped re-established the trust of clinical staff that equipment is available when needed and put a stop to staff storing away devices for their department’s use which often exacerbated the issues surrounding device availability. Michael Woffindale, Bed Technologist and RFID Specialist at SaTH, comments:

“The system enables us to have the right equipment available without delay, which is great for patient safety.”

And there are other benefits: In case of an infection outbreak, affected devices can be quickly located and decontaminated before further spread occurs. Michael adds:

“The amount of damage to equipment has also gone down noticeably, because people know that we know where equipment has been.”

Building on the success of using active RFID the Trust is currently looking at the requirement for GS1 compliance and considering the use of passive RFID enabled asset labels for all medical devices, to allow for quick and accurate auditing.

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