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Specification for a standard patient identification band

Wristbands containing patient information have been the standard method of identifying patients in hospitals for many years. There is evidence, that suggests that there are patient safety risks associated with the use of patient identification bands.

Risks to patients

Evidence suggests that  patient safety risks are associated with the use of patient identification bands. These risks include:

  • Bands containing incorrect or incomplete information
  • Confusion about the meaning of different coloured bands
  • Using bands where it is not easy to check the identity of the patient.


The Commission developed specifications for a standard patient identification band. The specifications set out standards for the useability, content and colour of patient identification bands in Australia. The specifications were based on design requirements developed by the National Patient Safety Agency in the United Kingdom.

In 2008 these specifications were endorsed by Health Ministers for use in public and private health services.

Identification band resources

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