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December 2006, Volume 36 Number 12 , p 30 - 30



MANY HOSPITALS WERE preparing to implement bar-code patient-identification systems by January 2007, anticipating the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) requiring it for accreditation. But JCAHO relaxed its stance on this requirement, in part because many other industries are choosing a newer technology over bar coding—radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. First used in World War II to prevent American and British warplanes from shooting at each other, RFID tags are commonly used today by retail stores to prevent theft. (Think of the plastic devices attached to clothing that salespeople remove with a special tool.)

Compared with bar-code systems used in health care settings, RFID tags contain more embedded data, are more durable, and have a wider field of readability with a scanner. Several tags can be read at a time, and they can be read through clothing and bed coverings. Some RFID tags are reprogrammable, so they're ...

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