Several hospitals in Europe have banned together to trial a passive RFID-based solution to track and trace surgical supplies. It marks the first time that passive RFID is being used in a hospital environment to track surgical tools.
The project is comprised of Rigshospital Copenhagen, Aarhus University Hospital, Aalborg University Hospital, Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, the University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, and GS1 Denmark. Sponsored by the Danish government fund for innovation, the project will RFID-enable sterilization centers at the instrument level to increase patient safety, optimize logistics and storage of surgical instruments and improve workflow at central sterile supply departments (CSSD) and surgical theaters.
In addition, the UHF RFID solution will prevent the loss of surgical instruments, free up time for better treatment and improve patient care. A typical surgical procedure requires dozens or even hundreds of different instruments, from complex scopes to tiny sponges. At the end of a procedure, these items must all be accounted for at a cost of $150 to $400 per minute of clinical time required to locate all of the items used. RFID can often accomplish the task in a matter of seconds.
The pilot is expected to serve as a proof of concept for using RFID to comply with the forthcoming U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules for unique device identification (UDI) in hospitals. The solution being piloted is powered by Xerafy, a global supplier of RFID metal tags, and Caretag, a software and solution provider.
Tagging surgical instruments is a rapidly growing use case for RFID. Initially, many surgical instruments were simply too small to accommodate RFID tags, but Xerafy’s XS tags can now be embedded into nearly all surgical instruments. The resulting real time visibility confirms reprocessing and use records for all surgical tools. The tags are designed to survive repeated autoclave and chemical cleaning cycles as surgical trays and instruments move throughout the sterile processing.
RFID already has a proven track record of improving efficiency and productivity at hospitals in asset tracking, patient tracking, security, specimen tracking, and medication management applications. The use of passive RFID to track surgical supplies represents another profound another step in the movement toward a fully integrated, RFID-enabled hospital environment. The pilot represents the first time that all functions related to surgical instruments in a hospital, from the operating room to cleaning and storage, will be tracked and traced through a single system.