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St James’s Hospital is the largest acute academic teaching hospital in the Republic of Ireland and provides a comprehensive range of diagnostic and treatment hospital services to a population of over 300,000 people at local, regional and national level.

What was the problem?

In Ireland, part of the code of practice on decontamination is that there should be systems in place to record the decontamination process for surgical instruments, and link them to the people on which they’ve been used. Patient Safety was at the heart of this and there was a clinical imperative to have traceability for high risk procedures.

How was the problem solved?

The project to create a national traceability solution started in May 2008, with St James’s chosen as the pilot site. The idea behind it was to create a globally unique coding structure that would mean the system could be rolled out across the country, with everyone sharing the same platform – it went live in July 2011.

Phase two of the project was to include endoscopes, so that there could be traceability there too.

Currently, it’s the only national system globally that covers instruments and endoscopes. Again, patient safety was the driver.

What are the benefits?

  • Automatic tracking of instrument sets
  • Easier to share loan sets, giving greater interoperability between hospitals, and more accurate and legible set lists
  • Tray checklists are printed when scanned, giving an accurate and easily accessible version
  • All records can be stored digitally and referenced post-event
  • Linking the tracking system and theatre, closing the loop between patients and sets
  • Scanning of instrument sets has improved workflow as the team now has to communicate and be more organised
  • Reporting and management of set inventory is improved as they’re doing more audits

Read the full case study

Other success stories

Improving patient safety through surgical instrument tracking

Product safety recall – the view from the theatre

Improving inventory management


Inventory management

Medical equipment management

Delivering benefits globally

Patient identification for blood transfusion