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Acceptability of identification bracelets for hospital inpatients


Objective: To evaluate whether hospitalised patients would agree to wear an identification bracelet and whether patient acceptability is improved by more detailed explanations or by using a code instead of a name on the bracelet.

Design: Patient survey that tested two variables in a randomised factorial design. Explanations about identification bracelets were given (a) with or without examples of situations where patient identification may be important, and (b) with the patient name or an anonymous code appearing on the bracelet.

Setting: Swiss teaching hospital where wearing of identification bracelets was not systematic.

Participants: Adult patients discharged from hospital (n = 1411).

Main outcome measures: Patients’ responses to the questions: (a) should the hospital introduce a compulsory identification bracelet? and (b) would the patient agree to wear such a bracelet?

Results: Globally, 83.9% of patients thought that the hospital should introduce bracelets and 90.2% stated that they would agree to wear one. Providing examples increased support for both the hospital policy (87.9% v 79.2%, p<0.001) and personal acceptance (92.2% v 88.1%, p = 0.015). Whether or not the bracelet carried the patient’s name or an anonymous code did not influence patient choice.

Conclusions: The majority of patients were in favour of wearing an identification bracelet during their hospital stay. This proportion increased significantly when an explanation based on examples of the consequences of incorrect patient identification had been provided.

  • patient identification
  • patient safety
  • identification bracelet

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