Time accuracy of a radio frequency identification patient tracking system for recording operating room timestamps

Anesth Analg. 2006 Apr;102(4):1183-6. doi: 10.1213/01.ane.0000196527.96964.72.


A patient tracking system is a promising tool for managing patient flow and improving efficiency in the operating room. Wireless location systems, using infrared or radio frequency transmitters, can automatically timestamp key events, thereby decreasing the need for manual data input. In this study, we measured the accuracy and precision of automatically documented timestamps compared with manual recording. Each patient scheduled for urgent surgery was given an active radio frequency/infrared transmitter. The prototype software tracked the patient throughout the perioperative process, automatically documenting the timestamps. Both automatic and traditional data entry were compared with the reference data. The absolute value of median error was 64% smaller (P < 0.01), and the average quartile deviation of error was 69% smaller in automatic documentation. The average delay between an activity and the documentation was 80 seconds in automatic documentation and 735 seconds in manual documentation. Both the accuracy and the precision were better in automatic documentation and the data were immediately available. Automatic documentation with the Indoor Positioning System can help in managing patient flow and in increasing transparency with faster availability and better accuracy of data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anesthesia Department, Hospital / methods*
  • Documentation / methods
  • Electronic Data Processing / instrumentation
  • Electronic Data Processing / methods
  • Humans
  • Medical Records Systems, Computerized*
  • Operating Rooms / methods*
  • Patient Identification Systems / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Software
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Time Factors