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Medication errors might be reduced with barcode technology

Going into the hospital, you expect that you will get proper care. You likely expect that nurses and other staff members will give you the proper medications according to a schedule set by your doctor. Sadly, that isn't always the case. Instances of medication errors do occur, and they can often lead to patient harm. A recent study published in the "American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy" shows that there are ways that hospitals can help to reduce the number of medication errors.

The study looked at both inpatient medication administration and emergency room medication administration. It found that using a barcode-assisted medication administration system with electronic medication administration records, which is known as BCMA-eMAR, may help to lower the number of medication errors in hospitals.

In the emergency department, the study found that at one hospital, use of BCMA-eMAR improved medication administration accuracy from 86 percent to 95 percent within a year of implementing the BCMA-eMAR. When the number of medication errors dealing with the medication being administered at the wrong time were removed from the results, the accuracy went from 87 percent to 99 percent.

For inpatient medication administration, the percentage of medication administered accurately also improved, but not by the large margin noted in the emergency department. For inpatients, the accuracy went from 89 percent to 90 percent within a year of BCMA-eMAR implementation. When the incorrect time of administration medication errors were removed, the accuracy rate went from 92 percent to 96 percent.

Direct observation coupled with the BCMA-eMAR system is a two-prong method that might help to further reduce the number of medication errors at hospitals. Until hospitals determine foolproof ways to prevent medication errors, patients might still continue to have ill effects from medication errors. People in the District of Columbia who have been harmed by medication errors might need to explore their right to seek compensation for those damages and losses.

Source: Pharmacy Times, "Barcoding Technology May Improve Medication Accuracy" Aimee Simone, Apr. 16, 2014

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