Barcoding technology, while common in many industries has been slow to emerge in health care. Various studies have shown the potential for barcodes to reduce medication errors when dispensing medications from the pharmacy. Bedside barcode scanning, the use of barcode technology to verify a patient's identity and the medication to be administered, is a promising strategy for preventing medication errors. Its use has been increasing in notable places such as the Veterans Affairs hospitals, University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers (UPMC), and various hospitals throughout the Midwest. Barcode medication verification at the bedside is usually implemented in conjunction with an electronic medication administration records (eMAR), allowing health care providers to automatically document the administration of drugs by means of barcode scanning. Because the eMAR imports medication orders electronically from either the computerized prescriber order entry (CPOE) or the pharmacy management software, its implementation may reduce transcription errors. Given its potential to improve medication safety, barcoding in combination with eMAR technology is being considered as a criterion for achieving “meaningful use” of health information technology and for obtaining financial incentives under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 in 2013.
- The New England Journal of Medicine, Effect of Bar-Code Technology on the Safety of Medication Administration, Eric G. Poon, M.D., M.P.H., et al., http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa0907115#t=article, May 6, 2010
- Patient Safety and Quality Healthcare, Improving Medication Safety with a Wireless, Mobile Barcode System in a Community Hospital, Mitch Work, http://www.psqh.com/mayjun05/casestudy.html, May/June 2005