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J Perinat Neonatal Nurs. 2013 Apr-Jun;27(2):145-50. doi: 10.1097/JPN.0b013e31828fc4c7.

Innovative application of bar coding technology to breast milk administration.

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Maternal Infant Services, Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns, San Diego, CA 92123, USA.


Hospitalized infants often receive expressed breast milk, either from their mother or from banked milk. Breast milk provides optimal nutrition for infants but because it is a body fluid it carries the risk of disease transmission. Therefore, administering the correct breast milk to hospitalized infants is essential. Bar coding technology, used in hospitals to prevent errors related to medication administration, can be proactively applied to prevent breast milk administration errors. Bar coding systems offer advantages over manual verification processes, including decreasing errors due to human factors and providing for automated entry of feedings in the electronic health record. However, potential barriers to successful implementation must be addressed. These barriers include equipment and training costs, increased time to perform the additional steps with bar coding, and work-arounds.

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