Color-coded wristbands: Promoting safety or confusion?

Niraj L. Sehgal, Robert M. Wachter
2007 Journal of Hospital Medicine  
A 62-year-old man was transferred from an outside hospital for evaluation of a complicated spinal infection. Like many patients, he had colorcoded wristbands to help identify potential safety hazards (see Fig. 1 ). The patient, an educated and alert individual, could describe the indications for only 3 of the 5 wristbands, and the transferring hospital supplied no legend. As it turned out, the green band represented a fall risk, the red one a drug allergy alert, and the purple one a tape
more » ... , whereas the white one was for patient identification. We're still not certain what the yellow one represented, but it was not a Lance Armstrong "Livestrong" bracelet; such wristbands have been reported to cause confusion in hospitals that have adopted yellow for their "do not resuscitate" wristbands. 1 Although attempts at ensuring patient safety by using color-coded wristbands are a common practice, the lack of standardization may pose an unknown hazard. Elsewhere in this journal, we present findings from a survey reinforcing the need for standardization around this issue. REFERENCE 1. Hayes S. Wristbands called patient safety risk. St. Petersburg Times 10 Dec 2004. p 1A. FIGURE 1. A hospitalized patient with several color-coded wristbands and unclear indications for each of them.
doi:10.1002/jhm.254 pmid:18081179 fatcat:fvdaea6xdbd4pli27an4escooi