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Clear and accurate labelling is a must in medical environments

30th April 2020

It’s a common assumption that all doctors have bad handwriting. It wouldn't be a stretch to say that most of us at some point have been handed a prescription by our GP that looks like it needs an enigma machine to decipher. 

You’re often left wondering how the pharmacist has managed to pick out the right medication and dose from the scribbles found on the piece of paper you hand to them.

Although it is a long-associated trait of GPs and doctors, that’s a bit of a running gag, it is not unfounded, and its mention pretty much always skirts over the fact that accuracy and clarity is integral to patient safety. This applies to any medical environment, from labelling patient tests for COVID-19, to more typical hospital notes and requirements in more ‘usual’ circumstances. 

The assumption stems from the fact that doctors, nurses and medical practitioners work in extremely fast-paced environments where they must move quickly to provide care and support to lots of patients with varying diagnosis and needs. They often don’t have time to consider the legibility of their handwriting to ensure labels, prescriptions, dietary and allergy requirements are easy to read. 

Yet when it boils down to it, communication and information is the currency medical professionals trade in. Without understanding the results contained within a test tube or what medication a patient might be allergic to all because a label isn’t clear, it could have significant consequences.

With multiple professionals involved in one patient’s medical journey, from bedside care, to test labs and operating theatres, misunderstood or misinterpreted information can quickly spread. So what can health care professionals do to ensure all labelling right across a medical environment is clear to read for any user and holds accurate information?

Replace the pen and ink with thermal printing

As technology has advanced during the past decade, with it has come more advanced ways for doctors, nurses and lab technicians to be able to record and note down test results and medical information 

Demand is increasing for this type of tech. And providers of diagnostic equipment and healthcare products are looking to thermal print solutions to pair their devices with. So, what kind of capability should the printer have?


It really depends on its application. At Able Systems we design and build a whole range of printers including models which have features specifically made for medical environments. Take our Ap1300 printer for example, which we delivered on a project with diagnostic equipment manufacturer Welch Allyn. It required printers to partner with its vital sign monitor so medical professionals could print off labels and stick them to patient’s notes whenever they need to, simply from their bedside.

The Ap1300 can use linerless label stock, which is silicone coated paper that can stick without the addition of any adhesive and can be removed easily. During testing for that project, 750 rolls of linerless stock went through five printers without fault. Once the printers were integrated with Welch Allyn’s devices and used at medical settings, more than 30km of stock was used without incident. Meaning medical professionals had a reliable device they could use to update patient records, whenever they needed to.

To find out more about linerless labels, watch our video:

For sterilising

In medical environments, autoclaves are used to sterilise medical equipment, laboratory instruments and pharmaceutical products. In some cases, once sterilisation is complete, a hardcopy of results for audit purposes is required.

As the outcome of sterilisation is vital to the safety of patients, audit reports have to be accurate and consistent. The Able panel mount printers, AP1200 and AP1400, are often requested by autoclave manufacturers as their design allows them to attach neatly to the front panel a device. They also have a long-life span and are extremely reliable. It makes them the ideal partner for autoclaves. 

For more information about Able Systems’ range of printers, visit our panel mount printer page. Or, if you need a label printing solution on the go, check out our range of portable label printers suited for medical applications. If you’re a manufacturer of medical products and need advice for a printing solution, email the Able team at