Effect of Bar-Code Technology on the Safety of Medication Administration

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Bar Code Safety and Efficacy

Errors that occur earlier in the medication process are more readily detected (~50% are prevented during the ordering stage) while very few (< 2%) are caught at the administration stage (bates et al., 1995). further, it has been noted that more than one third of medication errors occur at the latter stage (leape et al., 1995). because of the relatively high proportion of errors and the lack of success preventing them, error reduction strategies targeted at the administration stage
High rates of preventable medication errors have been repeatedly reported in studies in the medical literature (Bates et al., 1995; Leape et al., 1995; Flynn et al., 2002; Kanjanarat et al., 2003). It is difficult, however, to cite a single number to define the extent of the medication error problem due to differences in institutions, study methodologies, error definitions, and other variables. On the high end of estimates, one study that compiled data from 36 institutions reported 19% (~1 in 5) of the medication doses studied over a 4-day period involved medication errors (Barker et al., 2002). These errors included wrong time (43%), omission (30%), wrong dose (17%), and unauthorized drug (4%). The number of these errors deemed potentially harmful adverse drug events (ADEs) was 7%. A comprehensive review of medication error studies cited in the Institute of Medicine (IOM) 2000 report on errors in the U.S. healthcare system suggests that preventable ADEs, i.e., harmful medication errors, occur in ~1% to 10% of hospital admissions. The IOM report further estimated that 770,000 patients are injured and ~7,000 die each year due to medication errors.
An estimated 28% to 95% of ADEs can be prevented (AHCPR, 2004)
The added costs associated with treating medication errors can be very high (Classen et al., 1997;…...

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