Highlands implements new medication safety system

July 24, 2013

PRESTONSBURG – After months of planning and implementation, Highlands Regional Medical Center (HRMC) has implemented a medication safety process by installing Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA).

Some medication errors can be serious, even life-threatening. In an effort to reduce medication error, Highlands integrated bar-code technology into the medication administration process to help identify errors prior to reaching the patient. Medications administered at HRMC will have bar-codes readable by Cerner Millennium® CareAdminTM software. The CareAdminTM application is the link between medications dispensed to the patient, by nursing staff. This provides an electronic method to verify the five rights of medication administration: right drug, right patient, right dose, right route, right time. “This new system allows easy verification of the five rights of medication for an all-around safer patient environment,” Vylinda Howard, PharmD, RPH, Director of Pharmacy Services.

The system works by first having the nurse scan the bar code on the patient’s wristband. After this, the nurse scans the bar code on the patient’s medication, to ensure that the two match. The system reduces medication errors, ensuring that patients receive the right medication. In addition, it alerts the nurse if the patient has already received the particular dosage, thus preventing patients from getting too much or too little of the particular medicine.

While it is impossible to completely prevent all medication errors, BCMA can significantly reduce the number. Studies have shown reductions in medication errors after implementation: 54% reduction in all medication errors (American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy).

Allie Perkins, RN, uses the new bar code system to scan a patient’s medication