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QR Bracelet Helps Patients Receive Better Treatment

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 02 May 2018
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Image: A new study claims quick response coded bracelets protect Addison\'s disease patients (Photo courtesy of Newcastle University).
Image: A new study claims quick response coded bracelets protect Addison\'s disease patients (Photo courtesy of Newcastle University).
Bracelets imprinted with a quick response (QR) code may allow patients with rare diseases to receive improved treatment through immediate access to management protocols, claims a new study.

Developed by researchers at Newcastle University (United Kingdom) and Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Gateshead, United Kingdom) for people suffering from Addison's disease, the QR code, which is printed both on bracelets and on plastic cards carried by the patient, links to the Addison's Disease Information System (ADIS), which provides comprehensive clinical management advice specific to each patient, including emergency treatment that may be required, a letter from a medical consultant, and advice about preparation for surgery.

The study included a survey of 54 healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, paramedics, and dentists, who were asked about their experience in managing an adrenal crisis in Addison's disease patients and their professional views of the ADIS. The results revealed that 37% of the healthcare professionals had never seen, and 59% had never managed such an adrenal crisis. Survey participants expressed a preference for QR code-linked information, and as many as 96% thought that ADIS would be helpful in an acute setting. The study was published on April 9, 2018, in BMJ Innovations.

“Rare medical conditions are prone to poor management in non-specialist units as, by definition, their presentation is uncommon. Some healthcare professionals do not feel they have the appropriate knowledge or confidence to manage these cases, and they may need more support from information systems such as ADIS,” said lead author Jolanta Weaver, PhD, of Newcastle University. “Our ADIS uses a web app running on a smart device, linked to a QR code. It is accessible at all times and shareable with healthcare professionals, patients, their carers, or when required in an emergency by bystanders.”

Addison’s disease is a rare chronic disorder of the adrenal glands resulting in inadequate production of cortisol, which is essential for blood pressure regulation, maintaining glucose levels, and the body’s response to stress. It is treated by daily tablets of prednisolone, a synthetic analogue of cortisol, and fludrocortisone, a synthetic analogue of aldosterone. But concurrent illness, surgery, missed, stopped, or malabsorbed medication can cause an adrenal crisis, a medical emergency that can be fatal if left untreated. Treatment involves intramuscular or intravenous hydrocortisone and further resuscitation with a saline infusion and hydrocortisone.

Related Links:
Newcastle University
Queen Elizabeth Hospital

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