Several major hospitals are failing to generate and print standardised wristbands for their patients, even though a deadline requiring them to do so passed more than 18 months ago.

In March 2007, the National Patient Safety Agency issued a Safer Practice Notice Alert requiring NHS organisations in England and Wales to standardise and print patient wristbands.

The alert said they should do this from the hospital demographic system at the patient bedside "where possible."

It also said that all inpatients in general acute and community settings should have printed wristbands by 18 July 2009.

The alert was issued following evidence that over a one year period, more than 2,900 patients received the wrong care as a result of poorly written wristbands. 

However, figures recently published by the NPSA show that 13 trusts have yet to notify the organisation that they have implemented the wristbands, which simply require the patient’s first and last name, date of birth and NHS Number to be printed rather than handwritten.

The trusts include University Hospitals of Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, St Helen’s and Knowsley NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Royal West Sussex NHS Trust, Stockport NHS Foundation Trust and Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.

Twelve of the trusts say action is ‘ongoing’; although at least one – Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust – has publicised work to roll out barcoded wristbands that are linked to its iSoft patient administration system.

One trust, Mid Essex, is on the NPSA list as assessing the relevance of the alert to the organisation.

After the wristband deadline passed in 2009, the Information Standards Board for Health and Social Care published an advanced notification of a new information standard defining the procedures necessary to add barcodes to patient wristbands in all care settings by July 2011.

The latest figures shed doubt on the likelihood of a new standard being pushed forward or trusts being able to comply with it.

A spokesperson for the ISB told eHealth Insider that there has been a delay in the approval of the standard.

Standards body GS1, which are working with the Department of Health on the development of the standard said: “We are aware that the DH are currently working on the wristband standards for the submission to the ISB and are hoping to get this completed before July."