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Hospital Hi-Tech Tagging System a UK First

March 06, 2007 4:23 PM

The idea has already attracted interest from other health boards in Scotland and south of the border.
Science staff at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Paisley, have developed a hi-tech tagging system, believed to be a UK first, to track portable life-saving equipment as it moves around the building.

Devised by Clinical Scientist Mr Jason Britton and his team for an initial cost of £4500, it has been tested in three general wards, and there are plans to expand the trial to accident and emergency and receiving wards.

Mr Britton believes that a full system could be installed and made operational for about £80,000-£90,000, and make estimated savings of up to £20,000 a year at the hospital.

He said:  “I first had this idea when one of my Medical Physics colleagues mentioned at a meeting that considerable amounts of time were being wasted by technical staff in finding medical devices for routine maintenance.”

The Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology uses tags, with unique identification numbers, which are attached to portable medical equipment such as infusion pumps and blood pressure monitors.

The tag constantly sends out this number using radiowaves to the readers or receivers.

Placed at the entrance to the wards, the readers can tell the location of tagged equipment from the received signals.

analysis software which presents the information in a simplified format.
Clinical and nursing staff read the position of the devices using the dedicated

and developed in a manner that reflects their preferences, unique knowledge and
Different displays are available for each staff group and these are adapted

Mr Britton added: “The technology can improve efficiency considerably because it should reduce the amount of time clinical staff spend trying to find portable medical devices which move between different areas of the hospital and therefore use this more effectively in caring for patients.

“Maintenance staff also benefit from knowing exactly where equipment is when it is time to undertake planned preventative maintenance of portable medical devices.”

The strength of the signals is so low that the technology does not interfere with medical equipment and infection control issues with the tags have been overcome relatively easily.

NHS Forth Valley have expressed an interest in the system, as have the Medical Physics Department at Addenbrookes Hospital in England.

The Royal Alexandra team have also collaborated with Dr John Amoore, head of the bio-engineering department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh on certain aspects, particularly when developing ideas and how any system will be to the benefit of staff and patients.

Marie Martin, General Manager, Diagnostics for Clyde, said: “This is an exciting advance because we are using technology to locate equipment so that it is available for repair, maintenance, or for direct patient care.

For more information contact Susan Carden, Communications Officer, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 305 0305/201 4429.
“I am sure in the future we will wonder how we ever managed without this type of technology.”

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Last Updated: 11 November 2021