Bar Codes Vs. RFID

A test being conducted at Georgetown University Hospital's Blood Bank is designed to compare the efficiency of the two in tracking and tracing transfusions with the donor.

One hundred blood-transfusion patients will participate in a study to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of using bar-code technology compared with radio-frequency identification to track and trace transfusions from donor to patient.

The test is being conducted at Georgetown University Hospital's Blood Bank in cooperation with Precision Dynamics Corp., which manufactures wristband identification systems. The project will use Precision's Smart Band RFID Wristband System and tags from Texas Instruments. Prior to RFID, the university's Outpatient Infusion Service used bar-code tags to verify blood transfusions.

The Smart Band acts as a portable database carrying patient information that can be updated during the patient's stay at the hospital. Unlike bar codes, RFID's signal can transmit through human bodies, clothing, and nonmetallic materials without the reader having a direct line of sight with the tag.

The initial phase of the study, which consists of laboratory reviews and equipment validation, began on March 1. It's not clear how long the initial phase will last. The research phase and clinical implementation will begin two to three weeks after the first phase is completed.

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