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Health Devices. 2004 Sep;33(9):331-4.

Bar-coded medication labeling: setting the stage for bar-code-enabled point-of-care systems.

[No authors listed]


In February, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its final ruling requiring that all drug and biological products sold to hospitals incorporate bar codes on their labels. The ruling smooths the way for widespread adoption of bar-code-enabled point-of-care (BPOC) systems, which are a valuable tool for reducing medication errors. BPOC systems help ensure that the right medications reach the right patient at the right time by allowing bar codes on a patient's ID wristband to be checked against the medication packaging. But BPOC systems will only become truly effective if medications are widely available in unit-dose packaging. Right now only about a third of all medications are available in this form. Although this situation is likely to improve, hospitals wanting to take advantage of BPOC technology soon may need to do some drug repackaging themselves (or have it done by a third party), along with a lot of other groundwork. Widespread BPOC use may still be several years away, but the time to start preparing is now.

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