When you are thinking about ways to implement the 5 Rights Initiative, think 2D. A 2D barcode is not comprised or “bars” or “lines,” but rather consists of black-and-white “cells” or “modules” arranged in a matrix pattern—typically a square. A 2D barcode can store a mind-boggling amount of raw data in a very small space. Every bit of information relating to point-of-care or hospital protocol can be stored in a tiny symbol that is 2mm to 3mm square.
When a patient is admitted to a hospital or healthcare service, a profusion of information starts to be captured about that patient—and than stored in the hospital’s Admission/Discharge/Transfer System (ADT). An ADT module is an integrated patient management system that runs the entire patient care workflow, from the registration of patient information, then on to bed tracking and ultimately to discharge. The ADT module is fully integrated with other hospital IT systems, all of which hold an enormous amount of confidential information: Patient names (first, middle and surname), gender, date of birth, social security number, last visit, known allergies, immunization status, current medications, hospital room number, bed number, blood type, lab accession number, phlebotomy test orders, respiratory diagnostic tests, complete sample profiles, X-rays/CT scan orders and results, health insurance/billing information, advanced directives.
Any information that is entered into the ADT database can find its way into the 2D symbol through connectivity with barcode design and printing software. This becomes part of the electronic health record (EHR)—the patient’s individual medical record stored in digital format on a server. Another advantage of 2D barcodes is that the majority of states in the United States require 2D barcodes on the back of driver’s licenses. In an emergency situation, data about the patient can be captured directly from the patient’s own license identification.
The Right Patient
Upon admission to the hospital, each patient is “tagged” with a barcoded wristband for correct identification. Traditionally, scanning a linear barcode on a wristband posed certain challenges and limitations. First of all, linear barcodes are designed to be scanned by a laser scanner in a flat position. The curvature of the wristband around the patient’s wrist led to scanning errors. Additionally, the nurse or phlebotomist or respiratory tech needed to spin the wristband to find the barcode, wasting more time and irritating some patients. Lastly, a linear barcode—by its very design—encodes a limited amount of information.
2D symbols are capable of being scanned omni-directionally—upside-down, backward or forward and even diagonally—making them the ideal choice in a hectic hospital environment, where there are likely to be nursing shortages or cranky patients. In addition, a 2D symbology offers another very advantageous feature for hospitals—it is not as susceptible to printing defects or scanning errors as traditional 1D barcodes. The coding pattern has a high level of redundancy, with the data repeated in several locations throughout the symbol. This enables the barcode to be scanned correctly, even if a portion of the barcode has printed lightly, is smudged or abraded. It’s such a small code, furthermore, that it can be repeated several times on a patient’s wristband—eliminating the need to spin the wristband to locate the barcode. This makes for fewer frazzled, frantic and frenetic nurses and other healthcare practitioners.
The barcodes are “safer” for patients in terms of anonymity, accuracy and elimination of human error. Handwritten labels that are difficult to read or transcription errors—commonplace and even catastrophic occurrences in the past—can be virtually vanquished from the workplace by barcoding. Barcode and conquer.
The Right Drug
With a 2D barcoding system in place, nurses and other medical professionals can carry a wireless 2D scanner. This is an image-based scanner employing a charge-coupled device (CCD) or some other digital camera sensor technology. These utilize a small video camera to capture an image of the barcode. The barcode reader then uses sophisticated digital image-processing techniques to decode the symbology. The reading rates of these CCD scanners are lightning fast.
This enables the nurse or technician to move unimpeded from nursing station to medication cabinet/cart to patient bed—saving time and improving efficiency. Nurses scan their employee badges, the patient’s wristband and then the barcode on the drug container.
Medications can be pre-dispensed by the hospital pharmacy in a variety of mediation boxes—with days of the week and times of day barcoded on the container. The barcode on the drug container can contain such information as type of drug, formulaic or generic, dosage, frequency, optimal time of day, liquid or solid form, crushed or whole, chewed or swallowed, via intramuscular or subcutaneous injection. Once the barcode is scanned, the information from that particular drug administration automatically populates fields in the database and thus keying errors are reduced. This saves time—therefore saving money—and reduces liability. It’s a track-and-trace solution that is ideal for monitoring compliance.
By reducing the number of misreads and making compliance easier, nurses are able to delivery safer and more efficient care—without having to worry about medication errors. This helps a system already stressed by nursing shortages and liability concerns. It also ensures chain-of-control tracking information on addictive, restricted or lethal drugs.
The Right Company
So . . . here’s our own “5 Rights” initiative. We can provide blank wristbands for your hospital, with the right printers to print the right 2D barcode with the right software—all at the right price. This makes EIMINC™ the right company for you!!