A West Midlands firm has landed a significant deal with the World Medical Center which it says will lead to safer treatment for patients all over the globe.

Meriden-based Absolute Vision said the deal represents the largest single order for its DataMouse Pro 2D code reader.

The hand-held readers will be distributed worldwide to the surgeries and hospitals that form a growing network of treatment centres, all linked to the Swiss-based medical organisation which was set up some eight years ago.

The World Medical Center has developed a card which contains all the necessary information for a doctor to treat patients safely, taking into account their current medication or any allergies.

This critical but private information is stored encrypted into an advanced 2D Data Matrix code, which appears in one corner of the patient's credit card sized medical card.

If for any reason, a doctor does not have immediate access to the reading technology, the seal on the card can be broken and a hard copy of the relevant information can be revealed.

Per Nordb?, chief technical officer at the World Medical Center, said: "Should you be admitted to one of our associate treatment centres they will scan your card, using the Data Matrix reader, and this will then reveal all the available information in the internationally recognised ICD medical language.

"This immediately simplifies and speeds up the consultation and greatly reduces the danger of being given the wrong, and possibly, damaging medication."

Richard Laight, business development manager at Absolute Vision, part of industrial marking equipment supplier Edward Pryor & Son, said: "This is a highly innovative and beneficial application of Data Matrix technology and one that could undoubtedly help to save lives in the long run.

"Everyone travels with some form of ID. A lot of us may carry organ donor cards and contact details for next of kin, but with a World Medical Card in your pocket, the people that really need to know -the doctors - can have a comprehensive file of your medical history and treatment at their fingertips, in addition to organ donor and next of kin.

"In extreme circumstances this could mean the difference between life and death."

The Data Matrix readers are being produced by Absolute Vision in the livery of the World Medical Center and will be used worldwide. The reader requires no external power source, so is ideal for the portable laptop applications that are being increasingly found in a busy medical facility.

It is estimated that a global system will be live within the next two to three years. The scheme is receiving support from the European Health Commission as well as generating a lot of interest from private health providers.

A complementary scheme where critical health information is stored on mobile phones has also been launched by the World Medical Center.