Using bar codes in the medical field
So, if you have followed any of my previous blogs, you will see I have written about how some of my recent medical issues relate to using bar codes.  Medical errors are widely acknowledged as a major threat to patient safety.  Having been privy to the interworkings of how my local hospital kept track of patient meds, tests and general care, I, for one, am very happy with the outcome.
Without getting into too much personal detail, I would like to relay a couple of key points I have recently observed.

  • As a patient, it is comforting to be able to have several doctors be able to access my personal information via a software application that is driven from the unique barcode on my wristband.
  • If you think about it, given the number of patients and the ability to track their meds from the initial request through the pharmacy to the administration of the medicine, there are so many chances for errors.  The leading cause of error-related inpatient deaths is adverse drug events such as wrong patient, wrong medication, wrong dose at the wrong time.  Yikes!
  • The time has shortened tremendously on accessing the results of tests, which has assisted in the administration of next steps in treatment.  When you’re waiting for pain meds, this is critical!
  • When the doctors are able to update your status on-line after a visit, it also means you get your meals a lot faster…. I know hospital food is not great, but it makes a difference if you’re going from fasting or clear liquid diet to a regular meal!
  • As I have made my rounds to different doctors’ offices after getting out of the hospital, there is a sense of security and comfort when they are able to access data from one other – Again, all driven from a barcode.  I know the technician that has drawn my blood has ensured my personal information via a barcode label on the sample and not someone else’s!
  • I have also seen firsthand how efficient the nursing staff has become due to their ability to make changes and recommendations (or question a doctor) in real-time based on information coming to them much faster.
  • Ensuring employee compliance, proper training, and education of all hospital personnel, along with utilization reporting is key to success.  The hospital that I was in was quite impressive in the deployement of their new Bar-Coded Medication Administration system.  I observed during the first hours of deployment, nurses and technicians were able to rely on “power users” familiar with the system to help them through any questions they had.

The doctors and nurses I have spoken to about bar code technology have found that they are more efficient on a daily basis and share some of my personal observations in regards to safety.  While I was not given specific statistics, several commented that the frequency of errors in procedures and medicine being dispensed has dropped significantly.
If you are interested in using bar codes in the medical field, you may enjoy this article I recently read from the New England Journal of Medicine: Bar Code System Article.  The article outlines the effects of bar code technology, much of which coincides with my own personal observations.
If you’d like to hear more about bar code solutions in the medical field, please contact L-Tron Corporation for additional information!