Hospital wristbands are a commonly used safety device for identifying patients undergoing medical care (see patient safety and medical identification tag). Available in a variety of sizes to accommodate patients as small as newborns and as large as obese adults, hospital wristbands can be handwritten, embossed, laser-printed or thermal-imaged with names, pictures, medical record numbers, barcodes and other personal identifiers.
Laser printing and thermal imaging—the most advanced technologies for personalizing hospital wristbands—support fonts, colors and barcodes for improved patient safety through electronic patient and medication tracking. Handwritten and embossed wristbands remain in widespread use, however, despite findings on compromised safety reported in 2007. The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) found that as many as 2,900 patients each year were receiving the wrong medical care because of the hospital staff’s inability to read damaged or otherwise illegible patient information on handwritten and embossed wristbands.