Change Initiative: Barcoding Medications

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Change Initiative: Bar Coding Medications While the use of barcode technology has had many applications in hospitals for quite some time it has only recently been used to address patient safety. Mitch Work (2005) views bar code technology as a particularly promising advance in the effort to reduce medical errors. Barcodes provide a valuable verification of medication administration by assuring that the "five rights" are confirmed: right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, and right route of administration. The use of barcode technology at the patient's bedside has shown notable gains in reducing medication administration errors, which may account for as many as 7,000 deaths per year in U.S. hospitals. There are many other potential patient safety benefits from implementing a bar code-enabled point-of-care technology (BPOC) system in addition to reducing medication errors. When these systems are implemented to their fullest capability they can improve the safety of blood transfusions and laboratory specimen collections. Less obvious benefits, such as increased satisfaction of nurses in their daily work, can also be realized. The technology reduces the nurses' paperwork burden, freeing nurses to spend more time interacting with patients and providing higher-quality care. A BPOC system can also provide a sense of protection to nurses, easing the level of stress. In turn, this can reduce nursing turnover, a growing and increasingly expensive problem in

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