Sheffield uses wristbands after eyedrops to avoid misdiagnosis

Young girl at eye department with mum wearing eye band reading book
09 September 2019

An innovative use of wristbands is preventing patients at Sheffield Children’s from being misdiagnosed once they leave the hospital.

Young boy showing his bright yellow eyeband wristband

What are Eyebands?

Eye drops are frequently used to dilate the pupils of inpatients and outpatients at eye clinics in Sheffield Children’s, Ryegate Children’s Centre and Northern General Hospital.

The bright yellow wristbands have been used at Sheffield Children’s since September 2018 to clearly indicate patients that have been given dilating drops as part of their treatment. The Eyebands are noted with the date and time that the eye drops were given and stay on the child, or pram for very young children, until the drops wear off.

Caroline McCaffrey, a Sister in the Ophthalmology department, has been instrumental in the introduction of the Eyebands.

Caroline said: “The idea of the Eyebands came following a serious incident where a false assumption was made about a patient who had fixed dilated pupils.

“Unless someone has seen the documented patient notes about the use of drops, they could be alarmed if the patient has fixed dilated pupils.”

Why does Sheffield Children’s use them?

Although the Eyebands are solely informative and can’t be used for diagnosis, they have a number of benefits.

  • Schools are able to identify why a child might have blurred vision and be at risk of being in or causing an accident. This is especially important if their parents don’t speak English as their first language and are unable to communicate that a child has had eye drops
  • Young adults who have been treated with eye drops may be accused of taking illicit substances, having a wristband can help explain why their pupils are dilated
  • Other health professionals can quickly recognise that a child has been given eye drops and this can prevent the wrong care being given – for example if the child becomes unwell or is in an accident, the wristbands provides the necessary healthcare information to aid decisions when looking after them.

What do parents think?

Since the introduction of the Eyebands, feedback from parents and children has been very positive.

One said: “It’s a great idea, why has this not been done before?”

Other parents and carers have said that the Eyebands serve as a reminder to them that their child has blurred vision.

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