Why a reliable label maker is essential in healthcare | Jul18 Newsletter
In 2018, people are living longer, healthier lives than at any point in history, in no small way due to the fantastic advancements in the field of modern medicine.
However, you may be surprised to learn that the humble label has had to develop some pretty amazing technology to keep pace.
Labels are crucial in medicine
It's an aspect of medicine that's easily overlooked, but labels are essential in healthcare.
Kerry Kennedy, one of Robert F Kennedy's daughters, discovered this when she thought she was taking her thyroid medication but had accidentally picked up a bottle of sleeping pills. The bottles and the pills inside them looked the same, and Ms Kennedy ended up asleep at the wheel.
Luckily no one was hurt, but it's a reminder of just how important labels are in medicine – and not only for the patient.
From the chemists who create them to the doctors who prescribe them to the nurses who administer them, drugs – and the chemicals used to create them – can be easily mixed up or mistaken for something else.
So while they may not have the same profile as the likes of Hippocrates, Florence Nightingale or Howard Florey, labels have long been an essential part of medicine.
Labels as strong as medicine
There's an old saying in medicine: "Show me a drug that has no side effects and I'll show you a drug that doesn't work."
So while the treatment you're receiving will make you better, it's probably made up of some pretty intense chemicals, which – if spilled – could do a number on, for example, printed ink. Ink that's required to tell the attending medical professionals who they’re treating, why they're being treated and what treatment they're receiving.
In short, it's essential that labels are easily legible, which is why it's so crucial for hospitals to have printers that create labels that can withstand chemicals and bodily fluids being spilled on them.
An industrial-grade printer is a must for medical professionals, able to print on tough, durable materials such as vinyl to ensure labels are easily read, even after having concentrated chemicals spilled on them.
When every second counts
People working in hospitals deal with life-or-death situations every day, meaning speed and efficiency are paramount. Luckily, with the advent of cloud computing, a patient's entire medical history can be easily accessed so doctors have the critical information they need to make the right call in such make-or-break moments.
That said, doctors don't have time to go searching through enormous databases to try to find the right patient, or risk spelling someone's name wrong and getting the incorrect info. This is where labels are helping save both lives and money.
Rather than just having a name or number, many patient-identification bands now have QR codes on them, allowing the attending physician to simply pull out their smartphone, open an app such as the Microsoft QR Code Reader and access all the info they need on the correct patient.
Impressively, a 2016 study found QR codes "are the most practical, cost-efficient alternative method of automation of patient authentication capabilities in public healthcare facilities with limited budgets".
They're often unheeded, but a reliable label, which can be easily read and scanned, and can withstand the rigours of a busy hospital, is an essential piece of healthcare equipment.