|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 14, 2008
New York City Public Hospital Among First to Use Standardized Color Coded Patient Wristbands to Prevent Medical Errors
Metropolitan Hospital Center Flags
High-Risk Patients with Colored Wristbands
Metropolitan Hospital Center today announced the implementation of a patient safety program that uses color-coded wristbands to quickly communicate patients' high-alert medical conditions and help prevent medication errors, allergic reactions and falls. The hospital identifies patients according to specific medical alerts, with red bands for allergy, yellow for fall risk and purple for do not resuscitate. The three colors are part of a nation-wide effort to standardize patient identifiers across all hospital settings.
"Hospitals use many ways to identify patients, including color coded charts, stickers and binders. Too often, the colors mean different things from hospital to hospital and even within the same hospital. This creates confusion and increases the risks of causing unintended harm to patients," said Meryl Weinberg, Metropolitan Hospital Executive Director. "By adopting this "Colors of Safety" program, we will increase awareness and improve communication not only among medical staff, but also among the more than 15,000 in-patients we care for annually and their families."
The "Colors of Safety" initiative, developed by the Greater New York Hospital Association (GNYHA) and the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition, is a voluntary program for New York hospitals to ensure accurate and timely identification of patients. Eleven other states throughout the country, including California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and Arizona have adopted the standardized color-coding.
To promote the program and increase awareness, Metropolitan Hospital Center provides patient safety training among medical and non-medical departments, and distributes brochures and other educational material to patients and their families.
"I wore my yellow bracelet while I was in the ICU after my stroke and kept it on after going to the Rehabilitation Unit," said Theresa English, an elderly patient at risk of falling. "I feel safer knowing that the wristband stays with me as I get my x-rays and tests. It lets the x-ray technicians, nurses and doctors know that I can easily fall while doing simple things, like going from my stretcher to the cat-scan table or even when I try to get out of bed and into my chair."
"The patients and their family feel comforted knowing the medical staff is always aware of any high-alert condition flagged by the brightly colored wristbands," said Pranav Mehta, M.D, Chairperson of the Patient Safety Steering Committee at Metropolitan Hospital and Chair of the Colors of Safety Work Group. "Using the color coded wristbands allows us to improve overall safety while helping patients to become active participants in their care."
Metropolitan Hospital Center’s Colors of Safety program is part of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation’s multi-year campaign to increase patient safety. HHC has set aggressive, measurable goals to decrease preventable events that cause patient harm, such as hospital-acquired infection, untreated early stage cardiac failure and medication errors. The public hospital system has set an ambitious goal to become one of the safest healthcare systems in the nation by the year 2010.
Metropolitan Hospital Center is a full-service, acute care hospital that emphasizes primary care medicine and utilizes the latest advances in medical science. Affiliated with New York Medical College, Metropolitan has emerged as a state-of-the-art health care institution that is effectively meeting the diverse health care needs of the residents of East Harlem and surrounding communities.
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), the largest municipal hospital and health care system in the country, is a $5.4 billion public benefit corporation that serves 1.3 million New Yorkers and nearly 400,000 who are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based health centers. For more information about HHC, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.