Healthcare Technology Featured Article

May 10, 2010

Healthcare Technology and News: AHRQ Releases a Study on Bar-Code Technology in Healthcare Sector

A new study funded by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality claims that using bar-code technology with an electronic medication administration record (eMAR) substantially reduces transcription and medication administration errors. The study also claims that it reduces potential drug-related adverse events.

Although these technologies make patient care safer, the hospitals need trained staff and good equipments to make technology work. The hospitals should come up with a way to implement these technologies.

To ensure that the correct medication is administered in the correct dose at the correct time to the correct patient, a combination of technologies called Bar-code eMAR is used. Medication orders appear electronically in a patient’s chart after pharmacist approval, when nurses use this combination of technologies. Alerts are sent to nurses electronically if a patient’s medication is overdue.

“Medication errors in hospitals are a very serious issue and can often lead to patient harm,” said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.  ”The good news from this study is that using bar-code technology and an electronic medication administration record together can be an important intervention to help achieve medication safety,” stated Carolyn M. Clancy.

Nurses are required to scan the bar codes on the patient’s wristband and then on the medication before they are used. A warning is issued if the two don’t match the approved medication order, or it is not time for the patient’s next dose. Having bar-code eMAR technologies in place was associated with reductions in errors related to the timing of medications.

Recently, the company announced a new audio news series to provide Spanish speakers with evidence-based consumer information to help them stay healthy, prevent diseases, compare the effectiveness of various medical treatments, and obtain high-quality and safe health care. Under this new initiative, AHRQ is producing two 60-second audio reports each month and distributing them to Spanish-language radio stations nationwide. Hispanics are 20 percent more likely to receive poorer health care than non-Hispanic whites.

Raju Shanbhag is a contributing editor for HealthTechZone. To read more of Raju’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Erin Harrison
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