Fusion Newsletter Article: Trials and Tribulations of Tracking Trays In Hospitals

Trials and Tribulations of Tracking Trays In Hospitals

 Trials and Tribulations of Tracking Trays In HospitalsWhether it’s a routine checkup, special test or major surgery, it’s fair to assume that hospitals are THE place to go when an individual’s health is in jeopardy.

Unfortunately, hospitals can also be a place that can potentially endanger a patient’s well-being.

According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, up to a third of all hospital admissions result in harm to a patient.1  These preventable errors, which include instances like infections from surgical equipment left in a body and worsened conditions due to a patient waiting far too long to be seen, happen more frequently than we think.

Dietary Errors Are Also Great Risks In Hospitals

Foodservice can also affect patient safety and often times is a greater threat than hospital risk managers realize. A meal tray can pass through many hands and every step, from ticket creation to tray delivery, has the potential to result in error and possible harm to a patient.

The Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority (PPSA) identified 285 events involving dietary errors that ranged from allergens on a tray to NPO patients receiving meals. Of the 285, almost two-thirds of the incidents were allergy-related and a majority of those allergies were known and documented in health records. Additionally, some individuals suffered serious harm from anaphylaxis.2

Two noted examples of breakdowns in the study were hospital staff incorrectly writing a fruit allergy in the section for drug allergies and charting a seafood allergy as a "seawater" allergy. Both minor mistakes that regrettably had major implications on patients.

It’s More Than Allergies

While allergy conflicts are the most common dietary error in hospitals, the PPSA study also highlighted other issues, such as patients receiving the wrong diet, trays being delivered to the incorrect person, or worse, NPO patients eating a meal mistakenly given to them. Meaning tests or surgeries were rescheduled, costing anywhere from $3,500 - $10,000 per incident depending on the procedure ($30/min to $80/min), staff and time.3

Automation Can Prevent Incorrect Meal Tray Delivery

It is crucial that food given to patients is handled with care and attention, especially when tray delivery is involved. Errors can occur at any point in the dietary process and staff, along with the tools they use, play a key role in patient safety.

By automating the tray tracking process, hospitals can provide their staff with a safeguard to ensure accurate tray delivery, especially in cases where patients may have a change in their diet after ordering a meal. Helpful features like wristband verification and warning messages through the use of hand-held technology, add extra, real-time security to further avoid mistakes. And having this advanced tech available to staff on the floors not only catches errors ahead of time, but also ensures that patients do receive the right food in a timely manner. Thus, preventing individuals from going without food altogether.

Take Patient Safety to the Next Level

Incorporating tray tracking automation is a must when it comes to keeping patients safe. Not to mention, automating can also decrease costs and increase patient satisfaction with enhanced tray location tracking. As you’ll see, gone will be the days of saying, “I’m not sure.” when a patient asks, “Where is my tray?”

With a few scans and clicks, you’ll know right away. And more importantly, you’ll know it’s the right tray.


  1. Lessons From America’s Safest Hospitals - AARP
  2. Patient Safety Tips – Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority
  3. What Does One Minute of Operating Room Time Cost? – Journal of Clinical Anesthesia


Article by: Jennifer Higgins - Marketing Specialist; Fusion, 2nd Quarter, 2018