Best Practices for Bar Code Wristband Formatting

How to get the most from your bar code wristband deployment

Wristband_app_healthcare_smallThere's plenty of case information proving that bar coded wristbands can help improve patient safety, boost quality of care, and achieve industry mandates. But, not all wristband deployments take advantage of the full value bar coding can deliver. Realizing the most benefit requires that the information provided on the wristband must afford easy readability, and deliver the correct information. 

If you are looking at various patient ID solutions, you'll want to take into account formatting considerations to ensure you make the optimal choice. This is especially crucial during the first 30 days of looking at a patient ID solution.

Bar code wristbands drive accuracy and patient safety

Bar code-based systems present a wide range of benefits to the healthcare industry. Caregivers can quickly identify patients and document associated treatments while enhancing the use of electronic health records (EHRs) to improve accuracy and completeness. Digitizing the entire point of care workflow helps ensure that clinicians have access to the information they need to deliver the safest, most effective care.

Bar code wristbands can improve the effectiveness of "Five Rights"—Right Patient, Right Medication, Right Dose, Right Time, and Right Method of Administration" checks. Doing so is essential for error-free medication administration and provides a platform to extend safeguards to other patient care activities.

Best practices drive superior results

Be sure to implement best practices as soon as you choose the bar code wristbands, software applications, scanners, and other supporting infrastructure. By making best practices a core part of your workflow, you can certify that the correct processes become part of daily use.

Ensuring patient safety requires that the patient continuously wears the wristband and that it remains readable for the duration of their hospital stay. The wristband must also uniquely identify the patient in a HIPAA-compliant manner.

Keep in mind that the process for designing, formatting, and producing bar code wristbands is not much different from traditional wristbands. To gain the most value, medical centers must ensure that wristbands contain the right information, meet industry mandates, and provide staff with an efficient solution. Following the best practices below will help you realize the full benefits that properly designed bar code wristbands can deliver:


Best Practice 1 – Repeat 2-D Bar Codes Across the Wristband

Best Practice 2 – Use Two Linear Bar Codes

Best Practice 3 – Include Human-readable Text

Best Practice 4 – Include the medical record number (MRN) and financial institution number (FIN)

Best Practice 5 – Include Check-digits for Security

Best Practice 6 – Include Print Time and Other Traceability Text

Best Practice 7 – Use Thermal Print-on-Demand Printers

Not only do best practices improve accuracy and patient safety. Following best practices also helps eliminate workarounds that often burden medical staff and create more steps to providing care, like having to move a patient's arm to scan an improperly formatted wristband.

About Zebra Technologies

Zebra Technologies Corporation (NASDAQ: ZBRA) provides the broadest range of innovative technology solutions to identify, track, and manage the deployment of critical assets for improved business efficiency. Zebra's core technologies include reliable on-demand printer and state-of-the-art software and hardware solutions. By enabling improvements in sourcing, visibility, security and accuracy, Zebra helps its customers to put the right asset in the right place at the right time. For more information about Zebra’s solutions, visit

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