The effectiveness of patient traceability in reducing the risk of disease outbreaks
In the event of health risk situations as emerging pandemics or the spread of infectious diseases, such as the current COVID-19, one of the safety and prevention method implemented by health organisations is to determine the traceability of the patients affected.
“The traceability of a patient is the identification of every person who have been in contact with the affected person and the subsequent information that those individuals can provide in return”.
The traceability process of a pacient
When facing emergency situations is vital to know all the relevant information about and affected person, both inside and outside the hospital. In order to reach this objective, the action process follows the next steps:
✓ The pacient is diagnosed as a Disease Carrier.
✓ The affected person is interview to learn about his/her recent activities or routines and the people he/she’s been in contact with.
✓ If a contagious disease is involved, the patient will be isolated, in order to avoid spreading the infection.
✓ If there are risks prior to the diagnosis of the disease, an interview is also conducted with those who have had recent contact with the patient.
✓ In case that the people cannot be identified individually, the health authorities make an appeal to them through the media.
The relevance of the traceability process inside a hospital
The action process to content infectious diseases take special relevance inside the hospital environment, as there are three risk factors:
▷ Patients in poor health such as people with immune deficiency or other pathologies that increase the risk of possible infection.
▷ The health staff who are in direct contact with both the patients affected and the rest of the people in the hospital.
▷ Medical equipment used in the diagnosis and treatment of an infected person.
RTLS: Evolving to the digitalization of a patient’s traceability
In this context, the process seeks to provide maximum safety and minimize the risks to both the affected patients and all those who have been exposed.
An evolution that provides greater effectiveness and, therefore, increases health protection guarantees, both of those potentially affected and of the health staff, is an automatic traceability system based on real-time location technology (RTLS). By using this method, health centres have more precise information about the patient routines and activities within the hospital, the different locations and interactions maintained by medical staff and the people with whom the patient has maintained contact. This speeds up the process of controlling and obtaining complete, highly reliable data about all the information obtained verbally and instantly provides a complete trace of both the patient and his or her contacts, whether they are healthcare staff, equipment, family members or other patients.