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Barcodes to Stop Drug Error in Hosps

Times of India
09 April 2012
New Delhi, India
By: Kounteya Sinha
Wristband Tied To Patient Records Data, Cuts Mistakes In Dosages By 97%

A barcode around a patient’s wrist will now protect him/ her from medication errors—considered among the top 10 killers by World Health Organization (WHO). The Max Healthcare chain of hospitals has introduced Barcoded Medication Administration (BCMA), a unique concept first conceived by an American nurse in 1994.

BCMA uses barcodes to prevent human error in administration of prescription medication at hospitals. It makes sure that patients receive the right medicine at the right time by electronically validating and documenting the process.

Barcodes to Stop Drug Error in Hosps

The information encoded in barcodes allows comparison of the medication being administered with that ordered for him. “We are implementing BCMA in our hospitals across Delhi, Bathinda and Mohali. Each patient’s barcode holds all the vital information about the patient and his medication, including what drugs s/ he is allergic to. BCMA ensures it is the right patient getting the right medication at the right time, the right dose and by the right route. This greatly reduces medication errors and improves time of delivery by 97%,” said Max Healthcare CIO Dr Neena Pahuja.

So how does the system work? BCMA consists of a barcode printer, a barcode reader and a mobile computer called computer on wheels (COW). Each time a nurse needs to administer a medicine, she takes the COW to the patient and scans the wrist band and drug barcode. A signal then alerts the nurse if they match. Once the medicine is administered, it also gets recorded online, informing the doctors whether the medicine was given on time.

“A compliance check is carried out every week. Earlier, nurses had to note down the time of the drug being administered. Paper record can be fudged,” Dr Pahuja said. The project won the Nasscom award for exemplary IT work in healthcare. The software also has information on what drugs the patient is allergic to. So, if a doctor prescribes the wrong drug, the pharmacy is alerted, making him/her change the medicine.

Max has also implemented a "private cloud" for patient data across hospitals, making it available across locations based on the need for second or super specialist opinion.

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