Barcoding & Patient Safety Is Becoming Increasingly Important

barcoding patient safety
Barry BarcodeWhat is the importance of barcoding and patient safety in healthcare or medical industries today?
by Barry Barcode

Barcoding plays a very critical role in the healthcare and medical industries in regards to patient safety. Patient safety is paramount as errors can be easily fatal. In a large, sometimes intense network of systems and medications, keeping track of processes, doses and medical records administration through product labeling, dispensing and inventory management, human errors and omissions can be easily made. Barcoding systems can easily mitigate these errors.

A few examples of patient safety initiatives involving barcode labeling and barcode label printers:zebra hc100 wristband printer

  • ePrescribing
  • computerized physician order entry (CPOE)
  • electronic medical records (EMRs)
  • pharmacy unit-dose labeling
  • RFID tags

A common illustration would be using barcodes on patient’s medication and a barcode on the patient (through patient ID wristband). These would be scanned at the POC (point of care) before the medications are administered, thus ensuring the correct medication matches with the correct patient.

Simply put, barcodes provide easy way to verify the 5-rights mantra in patient safety – the right patient, right drug, right does, right route and right time.

Also, keep in mind, It isn’t just that the barcode and system that is important, but also ensuring that the proper print process and media used is durable and substantial enough to hold up in the varying harsh conditions and uses found in the healthcare and medical environments. If the barcodes aren’t legible, accessible or easy to scan, then they aren’t much use to the system and errors and omissions will result, thus impacting patient safety.

Examples of substances/environmental conditions within healthcare and medical environments:

  • Water
  • Alcohol
  • Detergents and cleaning solutions
  • Blood and other bodily fluids
  • Ultraviolet light
  • Radiation
  • Sterilization
  • Cold storage
  • Patient wear and tear

Questions to consider are what type of print and media best suits each application. What are the printer options – ie., thermal vs. direct thermal vs laser vs. inkjet vs. dot matrix. Each has its benefits depending on the application. Inexpensive laser, inkjet and dot matrix, might be cost effective and easy to print, but will they hold up in certain conditions? Coated, tear-resistant thermal labels and tags are more expensive but will be required for certain applications. Does the label format and size fit the item it is being applied to? Also, the barcode needs to be accessible and easy to scan for the healthcare staff users. If not, then all the effort and cost in printing the barcode was for not.

All these factors play important role in allowing barcoding to be successful in obtaining critical patient safety within healthcare.

For further information on patient barcode tracking equipment or labeling, call us as (800) 643-2664 and immediately talk to one of our friendly representatives; or chat us up on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn!

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