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RFID helps automate the management of hospital surgical kits

RFID helps automate the management of hospital surgical kits

Dec 1,2021

RFID tracking solutions company RFID Discovery (a company under Paragon ID) has launched an automated solution that can help hospital employees fill medical kits of consumables used in operating rooms to ensure that the right medical tools are available for each operation. Whether it is items prepared for each operation or items that are not used during the operation and need to be returned and placed on the supply shelf, this system can identify the RFID tags or barcodes on these items.

The RFID Discovery application and software will provide a description of the options for each item to ensure that the correct medical tool is selected.

The system was first deployed in 2016 by an unnamed large-scale emergency National Health Service (NHS) hospital in the east of the United Kingdom. It saved clinicians and medical institutions seven or eight hours of labor per day, as well as allowing them to collect and return Unused equipment for operation. The solution is designed to allow important but busy nurses and doctors to focus on patient care instead of spending time managing supplies and equipment.


Employees use RFID handheld readers and barcode scanners to complete daily picking

The solution developed by RFID Discovery for NHS hospitals is now being commercially promoted to hospitals around the world. The company further developed this system to make the collection of medical tools and supplies more automated. According to the company, another British hospital is also deploying, hoping to save clinical staff time and ensure that surgery will not be delayed because the operating room is not equipped with suitable equipment.

Simon Dawkins, the company's chief RFID consultant, said that RFID Discovery uses RFID technology as a tool to help hospitals solve the surgical backlog caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

The traditional responsibility for selecting equipment for each operation generally falls on the senior nurses and clinicians, who must go to the supply room to collect the equipment before each operation. Doctors know what they need and will choose more items to ensure that all equipment that may be needed during the operation is readily available. Return the unused items to the supply room after the operation.

However, such a manual process not only consumes the time of nurses and doctors, but also causes a large amount of equipment to enter and exit the operating room, causing waste or loss of equipment inadvertently.

For nurses and clinicians, the focus is to ensure that all the equipment needed for each operation is available. And this set of solutions aims to make the process of equipment selection and return transparent and easy to implement. Dawkins said, “We have completely changed this process by establishing a system to guide medical staff to collect the equipment needed for each patient’s surgery.” The hospital uses software and applications to manage the collected data. Every item is You can choose to use UHF RFID tags, barcodes or a combination of both.


This solution frees nurses and doctors from worrying about managing surgical supplies and equipment

Each newly received medical device or tool is marked with a unique ID number, which is coded or printed on a label, and then linked to the corresponding item in the software. The software also stores the shelf data that each product should be stored in. When staff use RFID handheld readers or barcode scanners to complete daily picking, the RFID Discovery application running on the reader will display the scheduled surgical procedures and list the items they need and the shelves where they are stored. The user can then take the reusable surgical kit to collect the necessary items and scan or query each tag at the same time.

The app will update the list after each scan, and the reader will warn if people pick up the wrong item. After all the items are packaged, the application will finalize the tool list, and the user can add or remove some items through the exception report, and write remarks if necessary. Next, they will read the RFID tag on the surgical kit and associate it with all the tagged items in the package. At this time, the system will print a label to associate the patient's name with the tools placed in the surgical kit.

Then, the surgical bag is directly transferred to the designated operating room, and the RFID reader in the operating room can read the package ID and confirm the received surgical tool. After the operation is completed, any unused items can be put back in the same package and returned to the supply room together. When returning, the staff will scan or read each tag, and the collected data can be stored to record which supplies, tools or implants the patient used.

"This means that everything needed for each operation is in that package." Dawkins said, "These data provide information for post-surgery analysis. In this way, over time, we can analyze what the doctor really needs for the operation. And useless items.” If certain items are frequently added to the surgical item list or are often returned because they are not used, the system can suggest whether the hospital needs to update its procurement plan. After the operation is completed, once a recall event occurs, these data can also be used, for example, to track the implant to a specific patient.


Due to the increasing demand for surgical efficiency, RFID Discovery released the solution after five years of use in NHS hospitals. Dawkins pointed out that this may be due to the new crown epidemic. “Due to the new coronary pneumonia, there is a lot of backlogs of operations in the hospital, so this is to ensure that the doctor has everything needed for the operation to start the operation on time and effectively deal with the backlog.”

This set of solutions also includes Paragon ID's UHF RFID tags, but it is generally used in specific use cases and high-value items. For example, low-value consumables may use barcodes, while high-value consumables such as implants or high-end devices may have RFID tags, and are usually equipped with handheld devices that have both RFID tag reading and barcode scanning functions. The system also has a real-time positioning function of a fixed reader or smart cabinet to automatically obtain data about the inventory situation of the supply room.

A hospital that performs 55,000 operations in 42 operating rooms a year is deploying the solution for all these facilities. Since its deployment, this solution has helped the hospital reduce waste by £60 per operation by locating medical consumables and ensuring that they are not lost or left unused. In addition, it saves clinical time and reduces inventory by 1 million pounds.

RFID Discovery pointed out that for many hospitals, the challenge of adopting technology is to break the existing hospital traditions and the unwillingness of medical staff to change.

Dawkins said, “This system shifts the responsibility from the operating room staff to the purchaser, which may cause some concerns for medical staff until they adapt to the new solution. However, many medical institutions do not get the data provided by RFID before, may not realize how many consumables are wasted. If even the operating room staff do not know which products are discarded without being used, then the hospital will not know the cost of these wastes. It is the big data analysis that makes This whole set of programs can be put into operation.

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