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Radio-Frequency Identification
Andrew Bowdle MD, PhD
Professor of Anesthesiology and Pharmaceutics
Chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Anesthesiology
Anesthesia information system
• Philips Compurecord
– computerized anesthesia record
– “black box” recorder for anesthesia
Hospital charges for anesthesia disposables
Pharmacy charges
Professional billing and compliance
Preoperative evaluation module (not currently funded)
Extensive data mining capability
– Quality assurance
– Outcomes research
– OR management
• Tags attached to people or objects provide
“automatic identification and data capture”
(AIDC) such as identification, tracking,
security, other functions
• Think of it as wireless bar-coding
• Well established in retail supply chain
• Just starting to be used in healthcare
• Passive
no battery
receive energy from the reading device (induced in antenna)
short range (inches to a few feet)
small, relatively inexpensive (eg 10 cents)
• Semipassive
– battery powers internal circuitry, communication power comes
from reading device
– longer range (10-100 feet)
• Active
– battery provides all power
– range >100 feet
– more expensive
Data storage in tag
Ready only
Write-one-read-many (WORM)
Data storage capacity range from 1 bit to
512 Kb
– 1 bit simply detected or not detected
– EEPROM (electrically erasable programmable
read-only memory) chips with 512 Kb store
pages of information
Tag readers
• Installed
– Mounted in doorways, notes passage of
objects or people
– Mounted in storerooms, provide continuous
– Network throughout building can track and
locate people or objects anywhere
• Handheld
– Scan individual RFID tags, eg wristbands,
blood bags, drugs
RFID v Bar-coding
• Overlapping functions
• Bar-coding currently much cheaper
• Main advantage of RFID is wireless,
remote capability, can function passively
• FDA currently requiring bar-coded drug
labels, may require RFID in the future
RFID applications
• Locate and track patients
– Identification for site of surgery and blood
matching (wireless avoids the need to see the
– Identification for drug matching at point of
– Link to automatic notification system when
patient enters holding area, OR etc
RFID applications
• Locate and track staff
– eg what portion of the patient in the room time is the
surgeon in the room?
– eg how long from when the patient enters the room
until the surgeon enters the room?
– eg how much time are the staff spending in the
– eg how much time are the anesthesia techs in the OR
rooms, how much time in the workroom?
– eg is the anesthesia attending present for critical
RFID applications
• Inventory
– Continuous readout of inventory in core,
anesthesia workroom, holding area, PACU
– Handheld readout of anesthesia carts,
machines for completeness of stocking
RFID applications
• Locate and track capital assets
– Especially items that leave the OR area
– Writable devices could be updated with
current maintenance information
RFID applications
• Locate and track high value implantable
RFID applications
• Pharmaceuticals
– Locate and track high value or very time
sensitive drugs
– When RFID tag cost approaches that of bar
codes, inventory, charge capture, point of care
matching to patient
– Counterfeit protection
What to do
• RFID technology has great potential for
solving problems with positive ROI
• Application in hospitals is in an early
• Convene working group to follow
developments and plan time and place to