Patient safety has become a national initiative in healthcare because mistakes have become too costly. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, “more than 1.5 million Americans are injured every year in American hospitals, and the average hospitalized patient experiences at least one medication error each day.”
In 2004, the FDA mandated that manufacturers apply barcodes on thousands of medications. They predicted the step would save 500,000 lives over the next 20 years. But while the manufacturers are barcoding their pharmaceuticals, pharmacies often have to repackage medications before dispensing to patients—making a barcode label solution essential within healthcare organizations that administer medications to their patients.
A study of 36 healthcare centers reported that nearly 20 percent of medications administered were the wrong dose. The Institute of Medicine estimated that 100,000 people die every year from medication errors. A barcode label solution in hospitals and healthcare facilities is estimated to decrease medication errors by as much as 85 percent, according to the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and is predicted to be as low as 1 error in 10 million.
With barcoding, every medication can be marked and verified at each level from the pharmacist who dispenses it to the practitioner who administers it. There are a wide variety of barcode label solutions available, as well as label media that can accommodate even small vials and unusually shaped items, like IV bags or test tubes, and resist exposure to heat, cold, moisture, and chemicals. Barcode label printers vary from mobile to desktop units, so you can easily integrate the system into any space. By using a dedicated barcode label printer (versus a laser printer), pharmacies can ensure that the barcodes are crisp, clear, and scannable.
In addition, the ease of scanning and verifying the medication simplifies the work of the nursing staff. Using the portable scanner, the person who administers the drug reads the barcode on the medication and the barcode on the patient’s wristband to automatically record the dosage given and to whom. There’s no need for manually entering notes, which is yet another opportunity for reducing errors.
Patients rely on their healthcare providers for their health and safety. A barcode label solution is an easy way to add one more layer of protection.
To learn more about the uses of barcodes in hospitals, download our free eBook, Hospital Barcoding.