Bar Codes Bust Medication Errors

Good News: When the VA adopted bar codes for patients and medicines, medication errors plummeted. By bar coding medications and patients, and using hand held scanners, clinicians can ensure that the right patient gets the right dosage of the right medication at the right time.

Bad News: An estimated 7,000 people die in hospitals of medication errors.
One out of ever 14,000 transfusions get the wrong blood resulting in at least 20 deaths each year. Only about 125 of the nation's 5,000 hospitals use bar codes now.

Good News: The FDA will require bar codes on all medications starting in February, 2004.

Bad News: National average for wristband inaccuracies in hospitals is 3%. (If you get the band wrong, everything else can go wrong too.)

Sadly, safety technology isn't a big diagnostic machine that generates revenue; it's a protective device that reduces the cost of treatment and litigation. The good news is that the technology is out there to make our healthcare safer than ever before. All we have to do is embrace it.

© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, works with managers who want to plug the leaks in their cash flow.

Rights to reprint this article in company periodicals is freely given with the inclusion of the following tag line: "© 2008 Jay Arthur, the KnowWare® Man, (888) 468-1537,"

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