In hospitals serious medication errors are common. It is during administration or transcription of medication that these errors often occur. Such errors can be prevented with the help of barcode technology. Barcode technology is incorporated in the administration system to verify medications. For preventing medication errors in healthcare information technology has been publicized as a capable approach.
For example, the occurrence of grave medication errors can be reduced by 55% by using computerized physician order entry. Another example is bar-code verification technology, which is extensively used outside the field of health care everywhere in industries. Previous studies have shown that in the operative setting and in dispensing drugs from the pharmacy this technology can prevent errors. To verify the medication to be administered and a patient’s identity at the bedside, a promising strategy is the use of bar-code technology, which can prevent medication errors. Most notably in Veterans Affairs hospitals, its use has been increasing. In conjunction with an electronic medication-administration system (eMAR), barcode medication verification is usually implemented at the bedside. By means of bar-code scanning, it allows nurses to automatically document the administration of drugs.
To ensure that the correct dose of medication is administered at the correct time to the correct patient several technologies are incorporated by barcode eMAR technology into the workflow of the nursing staff. Traditionally, to determine what medications to administer, medication orders are placed by physicians by manually transcribing medication-administration record to the paper which in turn is referred by nurses. With the barcode eMAR, the process is simplified. Once the pharmacist approves the medication orders they appear on the patient’s electronic record. Furthermore, through an electronic patient worklist, the nurse will be alerted if a patient’s medication is overdue.
The nurse physically verifies the dose in the traditional paper-driven process of administering drugs, and before the medication is given the patient’s identity is verified. If barcode eMAR is used before administering the medication nurses will have to scan barcodes on the medication and on the wristband of the patient and this provides an additional layer of safety. The administration is automatically documented using barcode and nurses can verify whether the patient is due for this dose if the scanned dose corresponds to a medication order permitted by the pharmacist. However, the application issues a warning if the dose does not correspond to a valid order. Hence, barcode eMAR substantially reduces the rate of errors in medication administration and in order transcription as well as potential adverse drug event.