Leeds implements patient tracking


Clinical staff at LTHT wasted a great deal of time locating patients and completing administrative tasks
associated with the tracking of patients around the Trust. The Trust comprises seven hospitals over five
sites across the City of Leeds and surrounding rural communities, so the task of locating patients and
tracking them across these sites had the potential to be complex. The Patient Administration System (PAS)
was the primary mechanism for tracking patients. However, this was largely a manual and sometimes paperbased process with several points of duplication.

This issue was not limited to patients and included the locating of patient notes as well as medical devices
and supplies required for patient care. It created uncertainty for patients’ relatives and carers, who were not always able to locate the patients quickly or know whether they were in theatre.


As part of the Scan4Safety programme, Leeds set out to uniquely identify all patients and track them
electronically around the hospital estate, providing real-time visibility to clinicians, who in turn could
help relatives and carers find patients more easily.

As one of six Scan4Safety demonstrator sites, Leeds was implementing global data standards into
the Trust. This was underpinned by GS1 standards, which provides a consistent data structure for
the identification of people, products and places and the use of barcodes to scan and record the
whereabouts of these inputs to patient care.

Action taken

LTHT deployed new wristbands for all inpatients across the Trust that contained a scannable barcode
underpinned by GS1 standards. The machine readable, two-dimensional (2D) barcode that was used for
patient identification was a Global Service Relation Number (GSRN).

Through Scan4Safety, the Trust Informatics team developed a mobile application (PPM+), that allowed
nurses to scan the patient wristband quickly and easily. This acted as a further, electronic check on
patient identification, complementing the verbal checks that already took place. This simple scan allowed
the staff to undertake commonly performed tasks electronically, such as taking observations or to access
a growing list of forms. Personal contact with the patient was maintained at all times, while the use of
scanning provided automated checks that decreased the number of data collection errors.

Every location in LTHT was also identified with a Global Location Number (GLN). This meant that every
space in the Trust was electronically identifiable at the scan of a barcode. To ensure these processes
stood the test of time and advancement of technology, Leeds also embedded Radio Frequency
Identification (RFID) chips in every location barcode. This means that in the future, a scan of a barcode
will not be required, but that a location identifier will be accurately collected automatically, without any
action required from a member of staff.

“Scan4Safety has made a big difference to us as a team by way of knowing at a glance where the patient is in our system. When patients arrive on the ward for their surgery, they are scanned from then on. One look at the electronic board enables us to see if the patient has gone to another department (for pretheatre procedures) and at what time, as well as what time they actually went to theatre, or how long they have been out of theatre and in the recovery area for example. Previously we would not have known which department the patient had gone to and how long they would be, and would have had to go into the theatres to get other information. The times and locations provided are very useful for staff to know, and are really helpful when speaking to waiting relatives. It is time-saving to have it all in one place.”

Gill East, Senior Sister, Ward J23, St James’ University Hospital at LTHT


With these two sets of identifiers in place, by scanning a patient’s wristband and scanning the barcode on the wall near at the bedside or on entry to a room, Leeds can track a patient’s journey through the Trust, from admission, through theatre and recovery, to discharge. This information can be provided to relatives and carers relatively easily. Some clinical areas in LTHT are displaying this information in real time on the electronic whiteboards above nurses’ stations. The time saving this creates for nursing staff is significant.

“Scan4Safety will allow us 24/7 tracking of our patients to allow our endoscopy, radiology and theatre teams to be as efficient as possible. It allows our clinicians to manage their patients more closely and safely, including possible contribution to reduction of never events. Being able to perform patient / product recalls at the touch of a button, with greater reassurance of completeness is a tremendous facility. Reducing unnecessary waste by reducing unnecessary stock, eliminating out of date stock and being able to be open and challenging about unwarranted clinical variation is essential for an efficient hospital of the future. Scan4Safety is a real addition to good clinical practice.”

Dr David Berridge, Deputy Chief Medical Officer at LTHT

Next steps

The next steps for LTHT are to rollout the ability of all wards and departments to locate patients quickly and accurately, using electronic whiteboards or other accessible means. The identification and tracking of all the constituent elements to patient care – people (patients and staff), products, and places – will enable the Trust to have a significant volume of information at its finger tips with which to make improved management decisions and efficiently allocate its resources. Scan4Safety has set the foundation for a modernised Trust able to deliver improved patient care for its communities.

Added on July 31, 2018, in News - Case Studies