CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application 60/671,340 filed Apr. 14, 2005 and hereby incorporated by reference.
- BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
The present invention is related to identification wristbands and the like and, in, particular to a patient identification wristband tag suitable for pediatric use.
Wristbands are commonly used within a hospital to ensure that patients are correctly identified for medical treatment. A computer-controlled printer, tied to a patient record system, may be used to print identification information directly on the surface of the wristband or on a label that may be affixed to the wristband.
Some hospitals print a barcode, unique to the patient, onto the wristband, which may be scanned at the time medication is provided to the patient, either to automatically dispense the proper medication from a cart, or to ensure the proper medication container is selected by scanning a similar barcode on that container. Frequently in hospital environments patient identification wristbands are removed from the patients and require recreation and reapplication of a band with identifying patient information.
When barcodes are printed around the circumference of the wristband, curvature of the wrist, particularly for infants, can interfere with reliable scanning of the barcode. The curvature of the wristband can obscure portions of the barcode, cause crimping of the bar code, and prevent the entire bar code from being positioned within a scanning plane. Shrinking the size of the bar code to fit on small wristbands may not be possible because of limits in printer and scanner resolution and may be impractical because of the susceptibly of small barcodes to damage or dirt.
- BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
One solution to the problem of barcodes on wristbands for infants is to align the barcode along the axis of the wrist. Normally, this requires a wider than usual wristband that can interfere with movement by the infant, or the introduction of a wide section on the wristband to support the necessary length of the barcode. The latter type of wristband can be difficult to manufacture, and thus more expensive, and when printed directly by a printer, may require a special carrier for supporting the wristband during the printing process and a special type of clasp that is compatible with being passed through a printer. Special wristbands for infants can create problems in ordering and stocking wristbands in a hospital.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention provides a wristband having a separate printable tag that may be threaded onto a wristband and which is suitable for providing a widened axial segment for clean printing and scanning of a barcode. When fully assembled, the bar code is positioned perpendicularly to the patient's appendage. The tags may be supplied on a roll or sheet, easily fed through a printer for printing multiple tags in a single pass for a single patient, and then removed as needed by means of perforations or partial die-cuts in the roll or sheet. The tags accept standard wristband straps and allow a single width of strap to be used with both infants and adults. The tags may be flexibly manufactured from a material that has high tensile strength and is non-absorbent, resistant to substances common to a health care environment, non-crimpable, hygienic, printable, able to be cut with rounded, non-irritating edges, latex free and not necessarily the same material used in the wristband straps.
FIG. 1 is a partial perspective view of an infant's wrist showing placement of a wristband strap on the infant securing a tag of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a set of tags attached together on a carrier for printing showing die cuts defining the tags and slots within the tags and showing an example printing applied by a printer; and
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
FIG. 3 is a top plan view of the tag when assembled to a standard wristband by threading the wristband through slots on either side of the tag prior to use on a patient.
Referring now to FIGS. 1 and 3, the present invention provides a wristband 10 having a wristband strap 12 of standard design that may pass around the wrist 11 of the infant such as may be as small as the size of an adult thumb. The wristband strap 12 may include a clasp 30 such as an adhesive, snap, or crimp-type connector well known in the art and a tongue end 32 received by the clasps to form the wristband strap into a loop about the wrist 11 of adjustable diameter to accommodate wrists 11 of different sizes conforming closely to the wrist 11 preventing accidental removal. The clasp 30 and tongue end 32 attach to each other in a way so as to normally require cutting of the wristband strap 12 to remove the wristband 10, however, the tag 14 may be reused with another wristband strap 12, and affixed to the same patient. Suitable wristband straps 12 are well known in the art and available from a number of commercial suppliers.
In the present invention, the wristband strap 12 holds a tag 14 that provides a widening along an axis 16 of the wrist 11 increasing a visible area for printed information 20 and increasing a substantially planar axial length upon which to print an axially oriented barcode 22.
Referring now to FIG. 2, the tags 14 may be preferably manufactured of a strong, flexible and printable material 24 such as Valeron Strength Material, a white high-density polyolefin film material currently used for hunting tags, and available from ITW Company having a place of business in Houston, Tex. Multiple tags 14 may be cut from a single sheet or roll of material 24 using a die cutting process making a cut about a periphery 26 of the tags 14 while providing small uncut segments so as to hold the tags 14 into the sheet of material 24 until used.
The material 24 around each tag 14 serves as a carrier for printing the tags 14 in a standard printer such as a thermal printer (not shown), for example, the Blaster Advantage, a thermal printer manufactured by Cognitive Solutions, Inc. of Golden, Colo. After printing of multiple tags 14, the tags 14 may be broken free for use. A hole 36 may be placed in the material 24 outside of the area of the tags 14 to allow the multiple tags 14 carried by the material 24 to be attached to a patient chart or the like.
Referring still to FIG. 2, each tag 14 may generally be rectangular in shape with rounded corners 15 and die cut slots 28 at two opposing sides of the rectangle flanking the printed information 20 of the tag 14 applied by the printer. The slots 28 may be completely die cut, and removed, or may be slits, for example in a C shape, having no removable center portion or chad. In one embodiment, the tags may be 1 inch wide and 1.75 inches long with the slots 28 separated by 1.19 inches.
Referring to FIG. 3, after individual tag 14 is broken free, the wristband strap 12 may be threaded through the slots 28 to pass beneath the surface of the tag 14 so as not to obscure the printed information 20.
The slots 28 allow the wristband strap 12 to conform closely to the wrist 11 of the patient while providing some looseness of the tag 14 that can permit increased patient wrist mobility and comfort. The two slots 28 ensure that the tag 14 does not loosely dangle from the patient as may catch or be torn off, increasing patient safety.
The printed information 20, as shown in FIG. 2, may include a barcode 22 arranged to extend perpendicularly to the axis of separation of the slots 28, so as to lie along the axis 16 of the wrist 11 when a wristband strap 12 is threaded through the slots 28. The printed information 20, such as includes the barcode 22 may include the patient's name, a Medical Record Number, Visit Number, and date of birth or other patient information desired by the hospital.
A single tag 14 may be used with wristband straps 12 having different lengths suitable for different patients, or can be used with a longer wristband strap 12 that can be cut in length based on patient size requirements.
It will be understood herein that the term “wristband” generally applies to bands for the arm or leg of a patient.
It is specifically intended that the present invention not be limited to the embodiments and illustrations contained herein, but include modified forms of those embodiments including portions of the embodiments and combinations of elements of different embodiments as come within the scope of the following claims.