Best Labeling Practices for Hospitals

Hundreds of patients visit hospitals every day, and the doctors, nurses and other staff members are working hard to give those patients the best medical care. Emergency and medical procedures are not the only way to deliver that care. By using proper labeling practices, patients and staff can stay safe at the hospital.

Ensuring that your labels have proper information is vital for patient care, whether it be medication, hazardous materials, specimens, patient charts and rooms, relevant documents and more. All staff must work together to ensure that everything is labeled correctly and everyone is following the guidelines written on the labels.

Types of Hospital Labels

There are numerous types of labels used in hospitals and healthcare environments. Labels make it easy to convey important information quickly and in an easy-to-read format. Here are some of the most common types of hospital labels:

  • Pharmacy labels: Pharmacy and medication labels are essential for both the hospital and the patient. Proper labeling helps healthcare professionals administer the correct medications and directs patients on how to take their medication.

  • Anesthesia labels: Anesthesia supplies need to be labeled to ensure a patient is receiving a safe dosage and type. Labels help reduce the risk of human error. 

  • Laboratory labels: Laboratory labels help with patient identification, which helps get test results and diagnostics back to the right patient quickly.

  • Custom labels: There are numerous ways to label hospital items, like charts or patient identification wristbands. Many hospitals may have different ways of labeling items like this, in which case custom labels would be ideal. If you have a specific way of marking something, consider making a custom label for it.

All of the information above needs to be clearly labeled to ensure the patient is using the medication properly. When labeling specimens in the lab, this information must be included on the label:

  • Patient's first and last name
  • Hospital medical record number
  • Collector's ID
  • Time and date the specimen was collected.

Common Mistakes in Hospital Labeling

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are bustling, busy spaces, making it easy for mistakes to happen when labeling. Here are a few common labeling errors to be aware of:

  • Illegibility: Neat, clear handwriting is essential when labeling or charting. If labels are illegible, the chances of error increase significantly. Whether it be administering the wrong medication or mixing up samples in the lab, mistakes are more likely if the label isn't clear.
  • Smudged ink: Hand writing labels increases the risk for the ink to smudge or bleed on the label. For example, if the ink from a pen hasn't completely dried before a sample is handled, the label is likely to get smudged and become illegible.
  • Missing information: Missing information is one of the most common mistakes in hospital labeling. To provide adequate healthcare and keep patients safe, all the necessary information needs to be included on the labels.
  • Improper labeling: If medications or drugs are mislabeled, patients can be given the wrong drugs. This is a huge safety risk, as many patients have allergies and certain drugs can induce specific patient reactions.

Hospital Labeling Best Practices

When it comes to labeling medications, the following must be included:

  • Patient's first and last name

  • Prescribing doctor

  • Drug name

  • Dosage

  • Strength

  • Directions of use

  • Quantity prescribed

  • Any refills, if necessary

All of the information above needs to be clearly labeled to ensure the patient is using the medication properly. When labeling specimens in the lab, this information must be included on the label:

  • Patient's first and last name

  • Hospital medical record number

  • Collector's ID

  • Time and date the specimen was collected

Every sample must be labeled appropriately to ensure there are no mix-ups at the lab. Many labs will also reject unlabeled samples. Patient documents must also be clearly labeled with any allergies, health issues, current medications and any other information that is important for their care. During an outbreak, proper labeling is especially vital. This can help prevent the spread of diseases even further. For instance:

  • Patient samples: Samples that have been taken by those potentially exposed to a virus must be labeled correctly. This will ensure that proper procedures will be followed if test results come back positive.

  • Quarantined areas: Marking quarantined areas and what to do when entering these areas should be clearly stated. This will help ensure that those who are treating the patients are protected against infection.

Healthcare Label Considerations

Since there are numerous label needs and various factors that can affect them, it's important to be sure you're using the most effective labels. To help you find the best labels for any situation, here are a few considerations to make:

  • Storage: Where your labels get stored can affect the bond to the bottle and more. For example, some medications and drugs need to be refrigerated. Be sure that the labels used on these drugs can withstand cold temperatures so there's less risk of them falling off or shrinking.

  • Printer compatibility: Be sure that any labels you have are compatible with your printer system. Without printer compatibility, you'll be unable to properly print labels. If you can't use your printer to create the labels you need or want, consider ordering from a printing service like Nev's Ink.

  • Printed vs. written labels: Decide whether you'll use written or printed labels. While writing on labels can be convenient, written labels are much more likely to smudge. To help prevent the risk of smudges, look for smudge-proof labels or consider simply printing them instead.

Fulfill Your Healthcare Labeling Needs With Nev's Ink

At Nev's Ink, we carry high-quality labels for all your hospital labeling needs. We understand the urgency for labels in a hospital environment, which is why our process allows for stock items to be delivered right away. We also know that keeping costs low is essential. We operate at a minimal cost, so we can pass those savings onto our customers. For more information on our hospital labels, visit our website or give us a call at 1-800-638-7465. We will answer any questions you may have. Contact Nev's Ink today!

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