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January 09, 2013

Wi-Fi Improvements Help Patients with Hospital Bedside Medication Verification

There is a new way to ensure the right patient is getting the right medications at the right doses, with the right route and right time. It’s called Bedside Medication Verification (BMV).

Now in use at many hospitals, BMV provides barcodes which can be scanned before caregivers provide medications.

One example is found in South Carolina’s Georgetown Memorial Hospital and Waccamaw Community Hospital (WCH).

“Caregivers will scan the bar code on the patient’s wristband and on the medications to ensure the ‘Five Rights’ of medication management,” according to the Georgetown Hospital System. It checks the patient ID, medication, dose, route, and time.

“Thanks to this advanced technology we are able to double check patient medication which helps to prevent medication errors,” WCH Pharmacy director David Brown said in a hospital statement. “This initiative helps solidify our commitment to ensuring our patients receive the best and most advanced care possible.”

The data shows how important it is to ensure medication is correctly administered. There are some 1.5 million adverse reactions to medications each year – which could have been prevented.

Also, communications is very important to ensure correct dispensing of medication at a patient’s bedside in a hospital, Forbes reported. One example is a round-the-clock Wi-Fi network which was used at Western Maryland Health System (WMHS) in Cumberland, MD, for a BMV system. Clinicians discovered they needed to make some improvements to ensure quality of service.

“WMHS has been utilizing BMV for some time, but due to the nature of the coverage of our previous Wi-Fi deployment, it became counter-productive for our clinicians to use effectively,” Bill Byers, CIO at WMHS, told Forbes.  “We thought we had great coverage, but then we realized that 99% was not good enough.  Clinical confidence declined in our system as they looked for ways to work around the system.  Once we implemented our Enterasys IdentiFi Wi-Fi solution, our coverage increased to 100 percent and our BMV system now functions flawlessly and is widely adopted by our clinical staff.”

If mistakes are made, the results can be fatal in a hospital. Between 44,000 and 98,000 U.S. patients die from preventable mistakes while in a hospital, according to data from the Institute of Medicine. One cause of mistakes relates to inadequate or poorly functioning communications systems in use at hospitals. Medical errors, related to BMV and pharmaceutical bar coding, drops between 60 and 97 percent with correct technology improvements. 

“When it comes to a healthcare environment, network downtime is simply not an option,” Chris Crowell, president and CEO, Enterasys, added in a statement to Forbes. “With systems such as Bedside Medication Verification and telemetry devices connected via Wi-Fi, we understand that continuously available and secure connectivity is absolutely life-critical to our hospital customers.  The combination of wired and wireless infrastructure with advanced analytics forms a complete solution that not only ensures connectivity and coverage, but network visibility to meet HIPAA and other compliance measures, enabling our healthcare customers to deliver the best care and the best experience for their patients.”

Hospitals were among the first settings to install Wi-Fi, HealthTechZone reported. After all, the healthcare sector requires timely access to information wherever it’s needed.

“Infrastructure isn’t glamorous and the Wi-Fi doesn’t dispense medications, but if you don’t have robust connectivity, basic tasks to insure patient safety will be compromised,” Byers said about the need for the Enterasys IdentiFi Wireless network located in use at WMHS. He added that, “100 percent coverage is required to insure your patients are safe and your clinicians are efficient.”

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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