Hospitals often face situations in which clinical staff members need to respond to an emergency situation. At these times, knowing the precise location of crash carts and similar equipment is necessary to ensure patients get the care they need. Nobody wants to be in a situation where a person's heart suddenly fails, but the problem is exacerbated if the crash cart isn't where it is supposed to be. The same goes for other emergency response kits, and policy is not always enough to ensure clinical staff members can find what they need, when they need it. Real-time location tracking technologies can help solve this problem.
Considering the need for location tracking
RFID tracking is a practice in which items are equipped with a tag that can be scanned using a variety of device types. The tag also sends out a radio signal when pinged, allowing the network to identify its location precisely – usually, to just within a few feet (find out more in The RTLS Guide). Equipping crash carts and other emergency equipment with RFID tracking functions is so important because hospitals can't always rely on policy alone to ensure an emergency cart is in its prescribed place at all times. Real-time tracking can pay dividends when:
- An emergency kit or machine in an area is already in use and clinical staff members need to find the closest asset available.
- A system malfunctions and an alternative kit needs to be found quickly.
- A crash cart was used and not returned to its proper location and has gone missing rendering its current location, otherwise, untraceable.
- A patient in transit during an emergency resides outside of an area near an emergency station location.
These are just a few situations that commonly occur and lead to negative impacts on emergency response times . Combining equipment location tracking and personnel notification systems can give healthcare providers much of what they need to better handle emergencies.
Going beyond the equipment
The RFID tags used to identify equipment can also come in the form of wearable devices used by clinical staff. This allows hospital employees to quickly get help when disaster strikes. For example, a panic switch can be programmed to immediately notify doctors in a pre-prescribed work area of an emergency, allowing a nurse to get help without having to leave a patient. In this situation, the network would ping RFID tags in that preset part of a facility, identify which of those tags are registered for doctors, and send them the alerts in just moments.