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USA Health System
News Release
Mobile, Ala. (March 11, 2008)
Contact: Bob Lowry, USA Children's & Women's Hospital, (251) 415-1358

USA Children's & Women's Hospital First in Mobile with Medication Bar Coding System

Robby Smith and Emily Cherry
USA Children's & Women's Hospital chief pharmacist Robby Smith, left, and clinical nurse educator Emily Cherry demonstrate the new bar coded medication administration system on mannequin "patients" Jane and John Doe. The bar coded system will next be installed in a portion of USA Medical Center.

MOBILE – Grocery stores use bar coding to ring up the exact price of items purchased.  Now, USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital is the first hospital in Mobile to use bar coding to match patients with their medication orders.


Here’s how it works: Using bar code scanners and wireless computers in the computerized medication administration checking program, the USA Children’s & Women’s nurse displays a medication administration work list.  The list shows all the medications the patient is currently ordered.  The nurse scans the bar code on the medication and then scans the patient’s wristband.  The system automatically compares the scanned medication with the medication ordered and the patient.


The computer verifies that the five “rights” of medication administration – right medication, right dose, right time, right route, and right patient – are accurate.  If there’s a discrepancy—for example, the medication that was scanned is the wrong medication for the patient—an alert appears on the computer screen, warning the nurse that one of the five rights is being breached, preventing a potential error.


“We know folks choose a hospital for many reasons, and patient safety is foremost among them,” Dr. Becky DeVillier, USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital administrator, said.  “We’re happy to provide our patients with this extra measure of peace of mind.”

The bar coding system is being installed in phases.  Right now, it’s being used on the hospital’s adolescent and pediatric floors.  Next, bar coding will be installed in a portion of the USA Medical Center.
Besides making the medication process safer for the patient, bar coding eases workloads on doctors and nurses by keeping detailed documentation of every patient’s medication.  For instance, doctors can access a comprehensive electronic report to review when considering whether to change a patient’s prescription.  Nurses aren’t burdened with extensive handwritten documentation of medication administration.  The computer system provides real-time patient information, thereby enabling better coordination of overall patient care.
“Our staff and our patients appreciate the steps we’re taking to ensure patient safety,” Charlynn Will, RN, USA Children’s & Women’s Hospital clinical applications coordinator, said.  “Many of our young patients think it’s cool, so that’s a bonus.”
The bar coding system is officially called the Medication Administration Check, or MAK, and was developed by Siemens.  Bar coded point-of-care medication safety systems such as MAK are being adapted by leading hospitals nationwide to further ensure the very best care for their patients.
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Date last changed: March 12, 2008 8:14 AM