The Evolution of Patient Identification: Part I

What options are available for patient ID? We take a look at the different ID bands available.


Patient identification is the first step in patient safety and failure to correctly identify patients can result in medical errors from transfusion, medication, and testing errors, to wrong procedures and care plans. Positive patient identification is critical throughout the healthcare industry and patient identification practices are constantly evolving to accurately identify patients.

Traditionally, hospitals use patient identification wristbands that are handwritten or don’t have a printed barcode. Today, healthcare organizations should be reviewing different technological approaches that can help optimize operational processes and meet the increased demands of positive patient identification and patient care. In this blog series, we will be evaluating various patient ID solutions and reviewing some key considerations for determining that it’s time to update your hospital patient identification system. Let's start with introducing different patient ID wristbands.


Different types of patient ID bands

Non-Barcode Poly and Vinyl

Non-barcode poly and vinyl wristbands were the earliest solution to patient ID systems from handwritten imprint areas to insert cards. These wristbands required manual input of patient identifiers and lacked scannability by barcode readers.

Barcode Laser Label on Poly and Vinyl

Handwritten poly and vinyl wristbands evolved to a laser label being printed with patient identifiers and barcodes. Moving from a manual to an automated process helped minimize human error, improve security, and reduce application time. A waterproof laser label or plastic shield is often required, which can increase cost slightly from the traditional poly and vinyl non-barcode wristbands.

Barcode Laminated Laser

The laminated laser-printed wristband was introduced to the healthcare industry as a true automated process where the wristband was printed directly from a laser printer. While the laminated shield improved durability, it can cause low scannability and irritation to highly sensitive skin.

Barcode Laser

Barcode laser wristbands contain a special coating instead of lamination to enhance durability, patient comfort, and scannability. In addition, due to the low cost, automated process, and minimal application time, these wristbands became the most popular product for laser printers in the healthcare industry.

Barcode Direct Thermal

Direct thermal printers were introduced to the healthcare industry for on-demand printing that produced less waste as well as provided an easier printer set-up and maintenance compared to laser printers. Barcode direct thermal wristbands put an emphasis on patient comfort, prolonged-use, quick application, and low cost. These wristbands are the newest addition to patient ID evolution and rapidly gaining popularity due to proven technology.


About Medirex Systems Inc. Medirex Systems Inc. (Medirex) is a Canadian-owned and operated business connecting patients to health information systems. Being an industry leader for over 50 years, Medirex has evolved to bridge the gap between patient identification and engagement by cultivating patient connections with ease, security, and no errors. Providing a positive patient identification experience for over 10 million Canadians, Medirex adopts technologies ensuring that the patient has a voice in their healthcare journey. Medirex aids in the adoption of digital health resources and data to improve the patient experience for your healthcare organization. Media Contact: Medirex Communications Medirex Systems Inc. +1-416-363-9313

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