Barcoding comes to outpatient surgery

Bar-coding technology has been used in hospitals for a number of years and on inpatient units at Hallmark Health System since 2009. This summer, the technology was implemented for the first time at Hallmark Health in an outpatient setting – outpatient surgery. While bar coding in outpatient areas has not been widely implemented in hospitals, it can add another layer of patient safety to the medication dispensing process.

“The goal of bar coding for medications, whether for inpatients or outpatients, is to cover five ‘rights,’” said Bobbi Zinck, RN, CAPA, clinical practice leader for Melrose-Wakefield Hospital’s surgical day care and postanesthesia care unit. “These are the right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, and right route of administration.”

Many patients coming for outpatient surgery require medications. Particularly important are antibiotics to prevent wound infections, which should be givenBarcoding within 30 minutes of the surgical incision. Having bar-coding technology can speed up the process as well as improve safety.

Andras Sandor, MD, chairman of surgery at Lawrence Memorial Hospital of Medford, said: “The system allows the surgeon to review each patient’s allergies and medications when writing the order, and the bar-coding technology further reduces the chances of error. Entering orders on the day prior to surgery allows the pharmacy to precisely select and have medications ready for the procedure on time. This technology eliminates the need for handling paper orders, faxing them to the pharmacy and then waiting for somebody to complete them.”

Added Zinck, “Once the pharmacy verifies the order, we use the scanner before administering any medications. We scan the patient’s electronic medical record, then the wristband, and then the medication to ensure all match the order. Then we can administer the medication just before surgery begins.”


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