Wi-fi scheme to track dementia patients
THE largest hospital in the country is to introduce a hi-tech tracking system to prevent dementia patients from wandering, after one elderly woman went missing for 18 hours.
St James's Hospital in Dublin is installing the sophisticated wi-fi technology to allow staff and security to know the location of a patient through a real-time location system.
It means that alarms are sent simultaneously to staff if a vulnerable patient has left the ward.
The patient can be tracked and safely returned to the ward, said Una Healy, risk manager.
The hospital outlined a case in which the female patient with dementia walked out of a ward as visitors were entering.
"This patient was noted to be missing within 10 minutes by a healthcare worker who raised the alarm," said the report to the State Claims Agency.
"A full search was immediately carried out on the ward by staff. It was identified that this was a vulnerable patient, and the hospital has in place a number of procedures for staff to follow in order to aid the prompt location and safe return of missing patients."
It was electronically recorded as an adverse incident and gardai attended the ward, meeting with the patient's family to establish possible addresses they may have travelled to.
"Internally a full site search was carried out by security personnel and CCTV footage was reviewed by both gardai and security. Gardai issued a description to transport agencies and an alert went out across the city."
The patient was found 18 hours later, disoriented and unable to clarify where she had spent the night but she "did not appear to suffer any ill effects".