RF Technologies' SafeWatch System Offers Increase In Emergency Department Security And Staff Efficiencies

Source: RF Technologies
RFID technology shows 64 percent decrease in watch time of patients at-risk of elopement

Brookfield, WI - RF Technologies, the leading provider of comprehensive and integrated radio frequency identification (RFID) monitoring systems, announces the release of the SafeWatch System™, a utilization of RFID technology that helps hospital emergency departments (ED) manage and track patients at-risk of elopement. The system recently completed beta testing at Mercy Hospital, a division of Allina Hospitals and Clinics, located just outside of Minneapolis, Minn., in Coon Rapids.

A 1999 study by the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) reported that 34 percent of emergency departments have experienced an increase in the number of patients requiring medical evaluations for psychiatric problems. As a result, and with the reduction in the number of Level I and Level II trauma centers that accept and treat patients at-risk of elopement, hospitals are faced with issues including an increase in security needs and a decrease in staff efficiencies. Because of inadequate security staffing, hospital nurses and other clinical staff are often required to monitor at-risk patients by sitting with or near them until they can be seen by a mental health evaluator. This is not only valuable time taken away from other patients who also require clinical and acute care; it is also a liability to the staff and hospital. Should any patient leave the emergency department, harm themselves or others while under hospital care, staff members can be held liable and could be in jeopardy of losing their license.

"SafeWatch was introduced to offer the ED a highly efficient and cost effective solution without having to completely re-engineer, reconstruct or add significant staff to the emergency department," says Joseph Bjorklund, national sales manager for RF Technologies. "The technology offers a systematic way to track patients at-risk of elopement without risking the safety of the staff and other patients."

Deborah Macy, director of emergency, trauma and critical care services at Mercy & Unity Hospitals, initially approached RF Technologies hoping the company could help care for and monitor at-risk patients, while allowing clinical staff to perform their regular duties. RF Technologies worked closely with Macy and other hospital management – including risk managers, hospital administrators and security managers – to tailor a system to meet the hospital's unique safety needs and requirements. More than a year in development, the SafeWatch System was installed in Mercy Hospital for beta testing in March, 2004. Since its introduction, the system has proven effective by reducing patient watches by 64 percent – 39 percent higher than initially anticipated. Satisfaction among staff members has improved, and security has been made more visible and available to the entire hospital by decreasing the monopolization of their time in the emergency department. Since beta testing began less than four months ago, the hospital has saved nearly $30,000 and it is expecting a total savings of approximately $110,000 by year's end. The technology has also already helped in streamlining the emergency department and decreasing the chance of patient elopement.

"Having the SafeWatch System in place is almost like having a second set of eyes," says Macy. "It allows us to focus more time on all of our patients, including those with special psychiatric needs. Ultimately it gives patients, staff and security additional peace of mind – something not often found in the ED."

The SafeWatch System is also a benefit to patients themselves. Banding allows for discreet monitoring, which maintains each individual's right to anonymity.

Currently, designations and policies on how to classify and handle patients at-risk of elopement vary among hospitals. To help hospitals pinpoint exact needs, RF Technologies provides in-depth risk assessment to hospital staff members, including security and clinical staff, on what its current policies and procedures may be. The company also provides designations if needed, and offers comprehensive training to ensure proper use of the SafeWatch System.

"The SafeWatch System has helped to re-energize RF Technologies," says Kimberly Koch, marketing manager for RF Technologies. "We have always been a company defined by providing comprehensive safety solutions to niche areas in a number of industries. We are excited that we can apply our RFID technology solutions to new areas within these industries, and continue to help our customers address their global market needs."

About RF Technologies
RF Technologies is a leading provider of safety and asset protection solutions with the most comprehensive, integrated RFID monitoring systems available. Offering a breadth of products, the company helps thousands of businesses and institutions maximize its protective services and enhance efficiencies everyday. RF Technologies works directly with its customers to design, install and maintain monitoring solutions by providing in-house engineering, sales, installation, service and 24-hour technical support.

Founded in 1987, RF Technologies is a privately held company with an installed base of more than 10,000 systems worldwide. For more information on the company, its products and services visit www.safewatchsystem.com or call 1-877-734-8273. RF Technologies – Safety for What Matters Most.

Source: RF Technologies