Patient safety, a priority!

It has not escaped health care institutions that they can be held accountable for patient safety. Since 2011, a start-up in Aix-en-Provence has been proposing its solutions to track patients’ movements and drastically reduce the possibilities of running away for patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Christophe Deguerre, president of I3S-Solutions, said that “the recent jurisprudence has ruled on the responsibility of EPHADs in the event of a runaway. This topic has become a major concern for the people responsible for them.” But France has nearly 6 million people over 75 (4 million in Spain) and around 800,000 suffering from Alzheimer’s in both countries. And this figure is even more significant globally as nearly 44 million people suffer from a neurodegenerative disease (source: Alzheimer’s association).

RFID tags, the perfect solution?

To secure patients and institutions, an RFID tag is affixed to each person that will be monitored. It is tracked from a control station that centralizes all of the movements and it becomes easy to detect aberrant behavior. The label is placed inside the clothes worn by the patient and remains invisible; therefore, the freedom of movement of persons remains guaranteed. There are also bracelets to locate those who wear them but the parallel with the prison world has been raised, and the risk of stigmatization of dependent persons is obviously not desirable. This ethical argument is put forward by the start-up who also plans to offer its device to nurseries.

“This solution addresses security issues without contradicting the freedom of movement and autonomy of our residents, and it rids our medical staff of stress,” says the director of a Saint-Cannat nursing home, Michel Gauthier.

Another advantage of the anti-wandering or anti-runaway system called Sol-Secure is that it is autonomous for energy and it can not fail. RFID chips have been widely proven in other applications (retail in particular) for their discretion and longevity.

Evit’Errance, based in Puy-de-Dôme, has also positioned itself in this market and has received support from Crédit Agricole. Its solution is supported by radio tags with RFID. Remember that Radio Frequency IDentification is a system consisting of an antenna and an electronic chip for transmitting and receiving radio signals transmitted or analyzed by a central transceiver station. Some have also imagined inserting them under the skin of individuals as a number of science fiction movies have depicted (we can think about, for example, The Matrix or more recently Time Out).

The safety of people in a health care environment is certainly an issue, but it must not restrict the time available for medical or support staff. It must be as discreet as possible for patients and preserve their freedom of movement while protecting them. Note that there are technological alternatives based, in particular, on beacons and including discreet bracelets and accepted by the public this solution concerns. The experience and efficiency of the service rendered to the staff responsible will help make a verdict and/or open new developments in the near future.