ABC (Arm-banding, Barcoding, Compliance) of Patient Safety – Arm-banding the Emergency Patient – Does technology reduce patient misidentification of pathology specimens.

Study the process of patient identification during blood collection in the Emergency Department.

Grant ID: EMSS-2008-003-SPAIN-ABC

Lay Summary

Accurate identification of patients is critical to their safety and to the efficient management of health services. Without accurate identification incorrect procedures may be performed, patients may have unnecessary tests performed on them or there may be delays in their care as pathology or other tests must be repeated. We plan to study the process of patient identification during blood collection in the Emergency Department. This is the most common procedure performed in the Emergency Department. Mislabeling of pathology specimens can lead to fatal adverse events, such as incompatible blood transfusions. Results attributed to the wrong patient can lead to incorrect diagnosis and inappropriate future management.

In the chaotic Emergency Department environment, identification of critically unstable patients who require time critical treatment is even more important. These factors lead to increased risks associated with misidentification. Recently arm banding has been recommended as part of a new national standard to improve the patient identification process in Emergency Departments.


Journal Article:
Spain D, Crilly J, Pierce J, Steele M, Scuffham P and Keijzers G. Can a barcode scanner for blood collection improve patient identification integrity in the emergency department? A prospective before-and-after study. EMA (2015) 27,47-54.

Conference Presentation:
The Australasian Society for Emergency Medicine Spring Seminar, October 2011.


Amount Awarded


Grant Scheme


Principal Investigator:
Dr David Spain

Co Investigators:
Dr Julia Crilly
Dr Gerben Keijzers


CONTACT US +61 7 3720 5700 2/15 Lang Parade Milton Qld 4064