Contactless technology is playing a major role in tracking patients—U.S. personnel as well as prisoners of war—in Iraq. Fleet Hospital Three, a nine-acre, 116-bed facility operated by the U.S. Navy in Southern Iraq, is using radio frequency identification technology from Texas Instruments to track the status and location of hundreds of wounded soldiers, airmen, prisoners of war, refugees, and others arriving for treatment.
ScenPro, Inc., based in Richardson, TX, developed the Tactical Medical Coordination System (TacMedCS) which allows medical personnel to use RFID-enabled wristbands to identify patients and to update their status, location, and medical information in the system’s electronic whiteboard automatically.
“I am truly impressed with the way the Fleet Hospital has come together here,” said Brig. Gen. E.G. Usher, commanding general, First Force Service Support Group. “The teamwork displayed to get this great facility up and running and operationally capable, while almost simultaneously starting to see patients, has been amazing.”
“The result is a significant increase in our ability to save lives,” added Capt. Peter F. O’Connor, Fleet Hospital 3 commanding officer.
The hospital is manned by more than 300 medical service support and construction battalion personnel from around the nation. It is based out of Pensacola, FL.
TacMedCS replaces a labor-intensive, entirely manual system consisting of pen and paper, cardboard tags, and a centrally located whiteboard to show patient movement throughout the hospital.
With the new electronic system, each patient at the hospital receives an RFID Smart Band manufactured by Precision Dynamics Corp., San Fernando, CA. Inside the band is a TI-RFID Tag-It smart label inlay, on which basic identification information is stored. Precision Dynamics introduced the first patient bar code ID wristband in 1984 and RFID wristband in 2000.
Medical professionals use a handheld RFID reader from A.C.C. Systems, Glen Head, NY, to read the unique identification number, and add or change data to create a digital treatment record that travels with the patient as he or she is moved throughout the facility. Using a wireless LAN, patient information is transferred to an electronic patient management system, further eliminating manual reentering of data at a central computer terminal.
Commented the Navy’s Michael Stiney: “When Fleet Hospital Three came to us at the Naval Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory looking for a system that would help streamline administration, patient ID and tracking while engaged in Iraq, we knew that TacMedCS would be a most effective solution. The ability to keep important information with each patient, and to track his or her whereabouts automatically, have helped medical professionals at this facility better manage patient care.”
According to TI, the Navy is also exploring the use of TacMedCS for medics in the field. The system can quickly identify injured soldiers and record the types of treatment they receive. Using the GPS capabilities of the reader, information can be communicated back to commanders to expedite care and improve resource deployment.
As for the future, TacMedCS can be expanded logistically to track First Responder equipment and personnel, and to improve record-keeping. It also fits seamlessly into command and control systems used in emergencies. For example, RFID chips sewn into uniforms, or placed inside badges, and scanned at the scene of an event allow personnel to identify the individual responders on site and log fire, police, and emergency responders in an out of chemical or biological hot zones.
For more information:
For TI’s RFID products, visit www. ti-rfid.com; for ScenPro visit www.scenpro.com; for Precision Dynamics, visit www.pdcorp.com.