Baby sucking thumb with hospital band on


Barcoding Beyond Medication Administration

Time to read 1 minute
Dave Crist
Dave Crist

There’s no question that the introduction of the barcode medication administration concept has driven hospitals to explore barcoding as a way to lower preventable medical errors. In fact, today approximately two-thirds of U.S. hospitals scan most medications at point of administration with studies reporting that barcode medication administration technology has led to reductions in medical errors and decreased potential adverse drug events.

To truly conquer the problem of patient safety, hospitals need to dramatically expand this adoption into all areas of the hospital, from the patient room to the lab to the pharmacy. Since errors can occur at any point in the care delivery process between admission and discharge, proper identification is critical whether patients are being admitted or operated on, receiving medication or meals, or having something collected from them. Here are some examples:

In the hospital, incorrectly labeled items such as mother’s milk, blood, stem cells, bone marrow, specimens and biopsies can result in misdiagnosis and improper (even life-threatening) treatment.

In labs, barcoding samples streamlines management and tracking, improving safety as well as saving valuable time for lab staff by eliminating the need for substantial manual data entry.

As a result, compact wireless printers are being deployed to support patient safety in a variety of ways:

  • Quick patient registration at admission
  • Bedside identification of patients and specimens
  • Printing matching mother and infant identification wristbands
  • Identification of mother’s milk for correct infant feeding

Faced with competing technology priorities, forward-thinking hospitals are taking a closer look at the promise of barcoding 2.0. It’s time to recognize that both the technology and utilization of barcoding are maturing, providing opportunity to make great strides toward improved safety, workflow and quality or care—at a fraction of the time and financial investment required for an enterprise-wide EHR implementation.

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