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Hospital sees barcodes as way to protect patients

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Patient safety was on the Putnam County Hospital Board's agenda this month.

At their recent meeting, CEO Dennis Weatherford announced that the hospital had received state grant money for new carts with barcode reading and printing equipment.

Barcodes will make it possible for nurses to scan medications to make sure doses and prescriptions are correct and go to the right person. Barcoding will be done in the pharmacy as well. Even a single aspirin wrapped in plastic can be marked for identification.

The Los Angeles Times reported that 1.5 million Americans are injured every year after receiving the wrong medicine or the wrong dose. Barcodes on patient wristbands, medications and medical orders prevent mistakes and the injuries that can result.

Regarding another area of patient safety, Weatherford reported that the hospital has received funds from the Department of Homeland Security for an emergency communications system. If a catastrophe occurs involving lots of casualties, the new system will be able to contact masses of people at one time.

An additional benefit will be that the same system can be programmed selectively for smaller crises. In the event of an emergency C-section at 2 a.m., for example, time is critical. The new system can be programmed to contact everyone for the surgery without delay.

To take full advantage of the emergency communications system, the hospital needs a special server. Dr. Landi Halloran, Chief of Medicine, expressed the consensus of the board when she said, "It would be a great system."

A motion to purchase the server passed unanimously.

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