Mixed reception for hospital ID bracelets

Color-coded hospital bracelets intending to identify categories of patients and prevent errors by ensuring they receive proper care have received a mixed reception, the New York Times reports.

Red bracelets indicate allergies, amber says the patient has a falling risk and purple tells hospital staff that the patient has a not resuscitate order. The DNR bracelets seem to be attracting the most criticism.

Apparently, the Joint Commission warns that the purple bracelets may "brand" patients by their end-of-life choice, and may upset family members unfamiliar with the patient’s wishes.

Are those really legitimate reasons for blocking greater uptake of this seemingly simple and pragmatic strategy to improve patient care and ultimately deliver the care the patient wants?

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  1. It does seem like a shortcut for providing the care that a hospital is supposed to be providing.
    I was told by someone who works in an ER never to put on your MediAlert bracelet that you have cancer. They suggested that you could be in a car accident and show up needing some totally unrelated care, and not get it because they’d figure you were a goner anyway.
    I suspect the same is true with DNR. Just because you don’t want heroic measures doesn’t mean you want whoever just came on duty to make some decision about whether you really need to be cared for. Better to let those decisions be deliberate and involve your nearest and dearest.

  2. No, but I have had patients with 4 or 5 braclets and it does get to a point where it is to much. The fall risk bracelets are the most useless as they really tell you nothing about the patients ability and I would argue have probably done little to prevent falls. Falls would be better prevented by ensuring adequate staff be available to assist these patients as needed and to be able to provide the frequent checks to ensure they are having their needs met.

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