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Comput Inform Nurs. 2011 Mar;29(3):157-64, quiz 165-6. doi: 10.1097/NCN.0b013e3181fc416d.

Scanning for safety: an integrated approach to improved bar-code medication administration.

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  • 1Nursing Administration, Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, 1906 Belleview Avenue, Roanoke, VA 24014, USA.


This is a review of lessons learned in the postimplementation evaluation of a bar-code medication administration technology implemented at a major tertiary-care hospital in 2001. In 2006, with a bar-code medication administration scan compliance rate of 82%, a near-miss sentinel event prompted review of this technology as part of an institutional recommitment to a "culture of safety." Multifaceted problems with bar-code medication administration created an environment of circumventing safeguards as demonstrated by an increase in manual overrides to ensure timely medication administration. A multiprofessional team composed of nursing, pharmacy, human resources, quality, and technical services formalized. Each step in the bar-code medication administration process was reviewed. Technology, process, and educational solutions were identified and implemented systematically. Overall compliance with bar-code medication administration rose from 82% to 97%, which resulted in a calculated cost avoidance of more than $2.8 million during this time frame of the project.

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