How Zebra Wristbands and Labels Solve the Biggest Healthcare Identification and Tracking Challenges

Delivering quality healthcare requires many different departments and processes where patients, equipment, samples and supplies need to be accurately identified and tracked.

Many hospitals and other medical facilities struggle with everyday problems that get in the way of fast, accurate and reliable identification and tracking. And many of them come down to the quality and limitations of the barcode labels and patient ID wristbands they use to automate identification and data capture.

In this article, we take a quick look at some of these common problems, how they occur, and how to eliminate them with high-quality and specially designed Zebra labels and patient ID wristbands. Let’s take a look.

Patient Identification

Positive healthcare outcomes and good patient safety begin with accurate patient identification from admission to discharge. But there are three common challenges that often make this harder:

  • Wristband barcodes and printed information can become illegible and unscannable due to fading, smudging or other issues after contact with hand sanitizers.
  • Wristbands can also twist on a patient’s wrist, requiring a nurse to wake the patient to adjust the wristband and successfully scan it.
  • Sometimes linear barcodes are unscannable due to the curvature of a patient’s wrist, requiring a nurse to manipulate the band to scan the code.

The easiest way to prevent these issues is with Zebra’s LaserBand®2 Advanced Wristbands.

  • LaserBand®2 wristbands are made with specialized materials and a simple assembly that allows barcodes and printed information to withstand moisture and the harshest sanitizers and cleaners. They’re up to 6 times more durable to hand sanitizers than competing products.
  • They also have a patented design that doesn’t twist on the patient’s wrist. The bands always lay flat for quick and easy scannability, without having to manipulate the wristband.

Phlebotomy Collection

Collecting and accurately identifying blood samples from bedside to the lab is another critical healthcare process, but it’s often plagued by a serious problem:

  • Many hospitals and other facilities manually identify “stat” samples that need quick testing within an hour or less. Since they don’t have an easy way to identify these samples on a barcode label, it opens up the process to error, and if testing doesn’t happen on time, you can end up having to do a re-draw and re-test.

Thankfully there’s an easy way to automate the identification of stat samples. Zebra’s direct thermal IQ Color 2000D paper labels have invisible inks that can be pre-printed on phlebotomy labels and activated on-demand during the label printing process. These colorful “tabs” on labels make stat samples immediately visible and identifiable.

Blood Bag Identification

Two common issues often occur with blood bag labeling for blood banks:

  • Labels with basic materials are often not resistant to moisture and can easily fade, making barcodes and printed information unreadable or unscannable.
  • It’s also critical to prevent blood contamination from label adhesives, but basic labels don’t have specialized adhesives for this purpose, so the adhesive can leach through blood bags.

By using Zebra’s thermal transfer 8000T primary blood bad polyethylene labels with Zebra’s 3200 wax/resin ribbon, you can put an end to both problems. You get a label adhesive tested to ensure it won’t leach through the bag and contaminate the blood, and the polypropylene material is resistant to moisture so it remains readable throughout its use.

Microscope Slide Labeling

Microscope slides are a big part of the medical testing process, but this is another area where barcode labels can create problems. Here’s why:

  • Contact with stains and Xylene during testing can cause labels to fall off the microscope slide or cause the image to fade and become unreadable and unscalable, resulting in the need to obtain another sample for re-resting.

The good news is that Zebra has created a solution specifically for microscope slide labeling: its thermal transfer Z-Xtreme 5000T polyester label and image lock resin ribbon.

These Z-Xtreme labels are pre-tested to ensure resistance to stains, Xylene and other chemicals used in the testing process. So your labels remain identifiable and secure, and you can deliver lab results to the correct patient in a timely manner. And the image lock cartridge resin ribbon is available for use with Zebra’s ZD420-C printer, enabling quick and easy installation of your thermal ribbon.

Asset Tracking

Equipment such as wheelchairs, test equipment, beds and other items are frequently in high demand and needed in specific locations in a hospital. But if you don’t know where they are, or you can’t easily identify them to track inventory, maintenance, or other critical information, you can be left with time-consuming searches or even costly losses and unnecessary replacements.

One of the best ways to track the status and location of medical equipment is by using RFID technology to track assets. But RFID is a big challenge in many healthcare environments for several reasons:

  • The metal parts of healthcare equipment can cause interference with the readability of RFID labels, meaning RFID reads might fail.
  • To properly identify metal items, many healthcare facilities have to use more costly specialized RFID tags.
  • Metal-friendly RFID tags are typically thicker and can’t be printed through standard thermal printers.

Fortunately, there’s a great solution for RFID healthcare asset tracking with Zebra’s Silverline RFID labels. These labels feature a material barrier between the RFID inlay and adhesive that prevents interference and delivers improved read ranges.

They’re also more cost-effective compared to other RFID tags for labeling metal items, and you can print and encode them easily with Zebra’s ZT411 RFID industrial printer, which includes an optional upgrade to print thicker tags.

Where to Learn More About Zebra Healthcare Wristbands and Labels

Hopefully this article has introduced you to some great solutions to barcoding and labeling issues that you might be experiencing with healthcare identification and tracking. But there are many more solutions available to help improve your patient care and processes.

Contact Tri-State Business Systems now to learn more about our complete portfolio of Zebra printing, labeling and wristband solutions, and how we can help you solve your biggest operational challenges.