ANCHOR LEAD: THOSE PATTERNED BLACK AND WHITE STRIPES KNOWN AS BAR CODES HELP REDUCE MEDICATION ERRORS, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Bar codes surround us, and if you’ve ever scanned your own groceries you’ve recognized their utility. Now you may benefit from their use if you’re in the hospital, as bar coding is being used to manage medications. A study reported by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality established a reduction of 41 percent in medication administration errors and a 51 percent reduction in potential drug related adverse events with bar code use. Christoph Lehmann, a medical informatics expert at Johns Hopkins, comments.
LEHMANN: Bar codes are ubiquitous, they have been around for quite awhile. Bar codes allow a piece of software to identify a specific medication, and the dose of the medication and the concentration, and then the software can compare the medication dose, the route, the frequency, etcetera, to the orders that exist in an electronic provider order entry system. :24
Lehmann says bar codes allow humans to do creative problem solving and leave tedious checking to computers. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.