Medication Error Reduced By “Scanning” Patients for Electronic Records

In a related blog, our Baltimore, Maryland medical error attorneys discussed a recent study showing that implementing electronic health records significantly reduces medical and medication error, by integrating various systems across the country with hospitals and medical groups, to create a common platform for sharing patients’ medical records.

Health-care providers at the Tucson Medical Center (TMC) are reportedly achieving great success with a new electronic system using computerized scanning to verify their work. The electronic system is part of a new protocol at the medical center that was launched on June 1, 2010, after a $30 million upgrade to its electronic medical records system. Under the new system, each patient receives a bar code that is printed on a hospital bracelet. In an effort to reduce medication error and patient injury, before health-care providers can administer any medication, or perform any lab tests, the patient’s bracelet must be scanned, similar to a grocery checkout scanner. The medication must then also be scanned, to make sure that both the dosage and medication match the prescription for the patient.

In the preliminary three months of the new protocol, the system reportedly sent out around 1,500 medication error alerts that the health-care providers immediately corrected. Common medication errors like confusing continuous release and sustained release were also remedied, as the computer caught the medication errors after the patient’s bracelet was scanned.

According to Frank Marini, the CEO and vice president at TMC, the medical center implemented the electronic medical records in 2002, but still had paper charts for patients up until this year. Under the new federal health-reform law electronic medical records are a requirement.

As our Baltimore pharmacy error misfill attorneys have reported in another blog, the federal government’s Veterans hospitals has paved the pay for computerized records for years, after first going digital in the early 1990’s. According to Pepé Mendoza, a spokesman for the VA Healthcare System in Southern Arizona, the VA has been using bar codes to verify patients and medications for almost ten years.

In Baltimore, Maryland and the Washington D.C.-area, contact Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today.

TMC Aims for Perfect with Electronic Records, Arizona Daily Star, October 15, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Institute of Medicine (IOM)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Medication Error Reports
Institute for Safe Medication Practices, (ISMP)

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