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Recognizing the Institutional Benefits of Bar-Code Point-of-Care Technology

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Abstract:

Background: The application of bar-code technology to medication administration is growing, and its benefits are increasingly recognized. This article describes a hospital's experience with bar-code point-of-care (BPOC) technology and discusses the benefits of BPOC, considers the essential role of the pharmacist when implementing BPOC in a hospital setting, and provides a financial model for cost avoidance using a BPOC system.

Implementing BPOC: In 1998 Northern Michigan Regional Health System (Petoskey, Mich) partnered with a software company to create a BPOC system. Major milestones associated with implementation were involving and preparing end users, examining the hospital's entire medication process, updating the formulary and mapping drugs accurately, and identifying a process to maximize bar-code label attachment to medications.

Results: Visibility of prevented errors increased as compared with occurrence reports. Among the prevented errors, approximately 25% of the not-due errors occurred between shifts or between caregivers; wrongdose errors included nurse attempts to give one tablet when two were ordered and giving two tablets when one was ordered; and wrong-patient errors were predominantly associated with intravenous piggyback medications. Omitted doses or missed doses were virtually eliminated by BPOC.

Discussion: A BPOC system provides a much-needed safety net at the bedside to avert potentially injurious medication errors. Another benefit that a BPOC system provides is a record of actual medication administrations. Conducting a thorough assessment of a hospital's readiness for a BPOC system will guide system implementation and help avoid potential installation pitfalls.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-07-01

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  • The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety will be published by Elsevier beginning in 2017! For readers who receive access to the journal through their institutions, the journal can now be found on ScienceDirect (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/15537250). For librarians looking to subscribe to the journal for their institutions please contact your Elsevier Account Manager or visit www.myelsevier.com for more information. All other readers, please visit http://www.jointcommissionjournal.com/ to subscribe to the journal or to claim your access for an existing subscription.
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