Great Lakes Foot & Ankle Specialists adopts Xerafy RFID tags and Surgical Safety Scanner system for tracking instruments

565016c96c41a.imageEnsuring patient safety and accountability of instruments has become an increasingly technology-reliant process for most healthcare providers. Retired nurse Carol Schmucker recalled that more often than not, medical instruments get misplaced as they get caught in between bed linens and accidentally tossed away or worse, left behind in a patient’s body after an operation. Despite the mandatory process of accounting for instruments before and after a surgery, these tiny instruments are still often misplaced due to human error.

With these challenges at hand, Schmucker set out to improve patient safety in hospitals and ensure that instruments were not inadvertently thrown away with the invention of the patented Surgical Safety System. Created by her friend Fred Schoville and his team of engineers from Michigan, the core of the patented Surgical Safety Scanner system lies in Xerafy’s RFID tags for the instrument tagging because its small size enables it to be easily attached to instruments without getting in the way of that instrument’s functionality. Xerafy’s tags are also unique for their ability to withstand decontamination and sterilization processes with no damage to the RFID tag, unlike bar-codes and other RFID tags. An easy to use hand-held scanner is utilized to identify and view the instruments — individually or in groups (sets/trays) — within seconds on a screen rather than only by an individual’s visual assessment. Staff use a hand-held scanner to scan from one instrument to a whole surgical tray of instruments to make sure all are accounted for at any time before, during and after a surgery, and at multiple facility locations. That saves operating turnover time versus using visual counts and saves costs in replacing expensive lost instruments. Continue reading

Tiny Tags Expand the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) will change the way all businesses, governments, and consumers interact with the physical world.

In advanced operating roomAccording to Business Insider Intelligence’s “The Internet of Things 2015” report, there will be 34 billion devices connected to the internet by 2020, up from 10 billion in 2015 and businesses will be the top adopter of IoT solutions to improve their bottom line by 1) lowering operating costs; 2) increasing productivity; and 3) expanding to new markets or developing new product offerings. Governments will be the second-largest adopters of IoT ecosystems for increasing productivity, decreasing costs, and improving their citizens’ quality of life.

The expansion of the Internet of Things will rely on the increasing “connectedness” of assets and equipment — the ability for machines, appliances, vehicles, etc., to communicate with a network (or each other) so they can be remotely controlled, or provide operational or environmental data.

But that notion is largely built around “things” that already have onboard electronics. What about previously unconnected items? How far can that idea be expanded? It may be valuable to pull data from all types of assets — carts, tools, surgical instruments, packaging. What if, instead of simply making a car a node on the network, you could add embedded connectivity to individual parts on that car as well, right down to a single sparkplug or air duct? Continue reading

RFID Considerations for Medical Device Manufacturers

udi&traceabilityAutomated tracking of medical devices using RFID can improve asset utilization, save time and labor, reducing total cost of ownership because staff no longer have to perform daily counts and reports, search for instruments, or keep track of instrument sterilization and maintenance records to enable quality control and safety improvements.

However, RFID tags affixed to medical equipment must meet a number of requirements in order to function properly in the healthcare environment.

  • First, the tags must be small enough to be attached to instruments reliably without interfering with its use or balance. Tags that cannot be attached and scanned reliably can undermine the entire asset management initiative.
  • The tag must have a reasonable size-to-performance ratio to be meaningful so it can be easily tracked within a reasonable read range around metal.
  • Tags, once attached to instruments, must be biocompatible and rated to withstand sterilization and autoclave processes. The tags must also be durable enough to survive regular operational use in a hospital environment such as drop test impact.

In addition to the physical requirements of RFID for medical devices, there are also emerging track-and-trace regulations to keep in mind. Starting last September, certain classes of medical devices were required to carry a unique device identifier (UDI) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The number of devices that fall under the rule will expand each year through 2020, and the passing of the most recent deadline (Sept. 25) extended the requirement to all implantable, life-supporting or life-sustaining devices in all classes.
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Xerafy’s Roswell Survives Continuous Sandblasting

Roswell Sandblasting 2In many ways besides just its physique, the Roswell lives up to its name of being Xerafy’s UFO. Similar to the atmospheric entry of an extraterrestrial spacecraft, the Roswell is able to sustain the impact experienced in harsh conditions such as the sandblasting or shot blasting process. Xerafy’s Roswell was put to the test by launching small bits of abrasives at a high speed and pressure. Results from the test proved the ruggedness of the Roswell, as there were no detrimental effects to the functionality and performance of the tag.

Sandblasting is common in various industrial applications. For example, in the automobile manufacturing industry, sandblasting is used to remove paint, rust or debris from a surface before painting. In many other industries, sandblasting is also used for the cleaning and maintenance of stainless steel pipes. Shot blasting, on the other hand, uses larger pieces of a harder abrasive material than sandblasting, and the particulate is fired at the surface using a rotating wheel. Shot blasting is generally used to clean, strengthen or polish metal.

Unfortunately, implementing RFID where sandblasting or shot blasting are used can be a challenge as not many tags on the market are rugged enough to withstand the high impact of these processes. However, with Xerafy’s commitment to developing rugged tags for underserved markets, the Roswell has emerged as the preferred tagging solution for applications that involve sandblasting/shot blasting due to its ruggedness. It is indeed remarkable how the unique construction of the tag with a thin, high-temperature substrate between two cylindrical metal discs was able to eliminate tag liability and enable the tag to survive in such harsh environments. Continue reading

RFID: A Central Sterile Service Department Perspective

CSTMost healthcare facilities have established central sterile service or supply departments (sometimes known as central sterile processing) that decontaminate instruments, assemble instrument sets, sterilize equipment, prepare case cart systems for surgery, manage loaner instrumentation and implants, and acquire or purchase instruments, implants, and other supplies.

But their primary role is in preventing infections in the hospital. These departments follow stringent processes to keep sterile items cordoned off from contaminated devices or instruments, and to ensure proper sterilization of all items.

They also play an important role in making sure all surgical trays are complete. Surgical tray errors are considered critical incidents in a hospital, because they can put the hospital at legal risk. Avoiding tray errors reduces risk to patient safety as well as liability for the surgical team and facility.

RFID tags can help hospitals better manage this process, and provide a real-time, accurate electronic record of the status of each tagged instrument or device. RFID does not introduce any new processes into the sterilization workflow; instead, it guides each item automatically through those workflows, and provides documentation indicating when each step in the process is complete. It can also update the system when the instruments has undergone repairs, sharpening or modification. Continue reading