The next time you find yourself receiving a medication at the hospital, don’t worry if the nurse scans you like a bag of potato chips at the grocery store — it’s for your own safety. Medication mistakes are among the most common medical errors to occur, and can cause patients serious harm. According to the results of a study published today by The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), using bar-code technology with an electronic medication administration record (eMAR) has been shown to reduce the rate of medication errors.
The NEJM study, funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, was conducted at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Researchers compared the rates of medication errors before and after the implementation of bar-code-with-eMAR technology. They found that errors in administering a medication dropped from 11.5% to 6.8%, and transcription errors were completely eliminated (they went from 6.1% to zero) when the technology was used.
The study results could be significant, because bar-code-with-eMAR technology is being considered as a “meaningful use” criterion.