First implemented in May 2003, Sutter Health’s bar-coding technology prevented approximately 28,000 medication errors across more than 2.6 million attempted drug administrations throughout 10 hospitals in its first 18 months. Of the prevented errors, about 9 percent or approximately 2,600 could have produced moderate or severe clinical effects had they not been caught. The FDA estimates that nationwide there are more than 770,000 injuries and deaths caused annually by adverse drug events.
How does the bar coding technology work?
A bar code is added to each patient's personalized wristband, the nurse's ID badge and each dose of medication. The three codes are used to match and monitor the medication ordered by the doctor.
Before administering a medication, the nurse scans each of the three bar codes using a handheld device at the bedside. A bedside computer then "reads" these bar codes into a software application that uses expert databases to ensure the right medication in the right dose is given to the right patient at the right time and via the right route of administration.
Immediately —through a message box on the computer screen—the nurse is alerted to any potential errors and is given other critical information that could prevent potential adverse drug events.
Barcoding technology is in place currently in ten Sutter Health facilities
Sutter Health is the first and only health care system in Northern California to implement this advanced technology from Bridge Medical. The high-tech medication delivery system matches each patient with his or her appropriate medication, providing backup to doctors, nurses and pharmacists ordering and administering drugs in a hospital.
Barcoding systems are currently in place at 10 Sutter hospitals. Sutter Health will complete its aggressive installation of the program in all of its hospitals as part of its EHR effort.