Patient-care safety was on the mind of Richard Chole, MD, PhD, Washington University otolaryngology surgeon, when he created an electronic bracelet that could prevent wrong-site surgeries.
After noting the anti-theft chips on items at retail stores, he invented a wristband embedded with a miniature, disposable electronic device, complete with a marker pen and specialized sticker that deactivates the chip. When staff members mark a patient’s surgical site, they remove the sticker from the pen and place it on the patient’s wristband, deactivating the chip. If these steps are not followed, the wristband sets off an alarm.
Currently being tested for all outpatient surgeries at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the device offers promise to hospitals working to make surgeries safer. While it is no substitute for aggressive progress and rigorous standards, it is a partner in creating safer, high-quality care for patients.