An early adopter of healthcare IT, Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) began implementing bar coding for bedside medication verification in 2007 as part of its organization-wide initiative to enhance patient safety.
SVMC—which operates a 99-bed flagship facility along with rehabilitation, long-term care, hospice and home care, advanced cancer treatment, and primary care services—received funding support for this initiative through the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Even though the incidence of errors was rare at SVMC, the project aims to decrease the potential for medication transcription and administration mistakes through the use of bar coding and e-MAR technologies.
According to Charles Still, MBA, senior systems analyst at SVMC, the key to a successful implementation lies in helping nurses and clinicians verify patient identification and medications with the greatest possible ease and reliability. “We reviewed both bar code symbologies and print technologies thoroughly in light of the needs of our patients, clinicians and the hospital mission,” says Still. “Each symbology has its own pros and cons. The same is true for standard laser printers and thermal printers.We knew our decisions in each of these areas could affect ease of use and reliability of both patient identification and medication scanning at the bedside.”
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