Sutter Solano Medical Center First to Launch High-Tech Medication Delivery System, Enhance Patient Safety
VALLEJO, Calif., May 12, 2003—Sutter Solano Medical Center is the first hospital in California to install a new technology that makes delivery of patient medications even safer. Through the hard work of its nurses, physicians and pharmacists, Sutter Solano began using advanced computerized bar-coding and expert databases to track medication orders. The system is part of a $50 million investment in advanced technologies by the not-for-profit Sutter Health network to help prevent errors and improve quality care in all its hospitals throughout Northern California. Only about 1.5 percent of U.S. hospitals currently use this patient-safety technology, according to the Journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
"Like an angel sitting on the nurses' shoulders, this technology provides nurses with consistent backup to help better care for patients and make medication delivery even safer," said Linda Goble, R.N. "I'm proud to work for an organization like Sutter, where we're making unprecedented improvements in patient safety."
One step ahead of the industry
Sutter Solano's long-planned implementation comes at a time when others in the health care industry are beginning to step-up their efforts around medication safety. In March, the Food and Drug Administration announced that it would require pharmaceutical companies to bar code individual unit doses of drugs. Bar codes now appear on only about 35 percent of all hospital medications, which typically are packaged in single doses of one or two pills or in a single syringe ampul. Because the FDA ruling could take years to fully implement, leaders such as Sutter Solano are willing to pay for the additional expense of packaging their own unit doses in order to bring this safety measure to their patients' bedsides now.
How the technology helps keep patients safe and supports nurses
As the number of medications has grown 500 percent in the past decade, this new system helps ensure the right dose of the right medicine is given to the right patient at the right time. It also alerts the clinician to possible allergies, and look-alike/sound-alike or high-risk drugs.
"This proven technology not only improves patient safety; it simplifies the nurses' record keeping and provides them with more time to address other important aspects of their patients' care plans," said Sutter Solano Medical Center CEO Beverly Gilmore. "Our nurses are enthusiastic about advanced, easy-to-use tools like this and we're thrilled to provide them."
Sutter selected the Bridge MedPoint™ bar code–enabled point-of-care (BPOC) software system, pioneered by Bridge Medical, Inc., in Solana Beach, Calif. to provide this advanced safety net for patients and nurses. A computer bar code on each patient's identification bracelet is used to match and monitor the medication ordered by the doctor. Before administering medications, nurses and other caregivers scan a bar code imprinted on the patient's armband, one on the nurses I.D. badge, and one on the medication, using a hand-held device. A bedside computer then "reads" these bar codes into a software application that uses expert databases to provide patient-specific information. Immediately - through a message box on the computer screen - the bedside nurse will be alerted to any potential errors and be given other critical information that could prevent adverse drug effects.
About Sutter Solano Medical Center
Sutter Solano Medical Center is part of Sutter Health, one of the nation's leading not-for-profit networks of community-based health care providers, delivering high-quality care in more than 100 Northern California communities. Serving residents of Solano County for more than 100 years, Sutter Solano physicians and medical professionals offer advanced inpatient and outpatient services, including emergency care, critical and transitional care, surgery, medical/surgical services, cancer services and brachytherapy, cardiology, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, orthopedics, and more. For more information about Sutter Solano, visit their Web site at www.suttersolano.org.