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Local Kaiser issues bar codes for meds

July 11, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A medication dosage mistake back in March involving the newborns of actor Dennis Quaid showed us once again how dangerous medical errors can be and how easily they can happen. Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City is the first southland facility to use bar code scanners to prevent mistakes.Medical personnel get to know their patients well, but safety protocols require nurses to check a patient's ID every time she gives medication. But even with this policy, mistakes can still happen.

"They give the wrong medication to the wrong patients. I read about that," said patient Alfonso Landeros.

"There are about 98,000 medical errors that occur every year in the United States," said ER physician Dr. Kenneth Robinson.

That's why Kaiser Permanente Panorama Medical Center introduced a new bar code system that checks and double checks.

"This gives us an additional level of safety. It's just like a pilot when he is flying an airplane -- he's landed an airplane a thousand times, but they still will go through the checklist," said Dr. Robinson.

Once the nurse scans a patient's wrist the patient's name, medication dosage shows up on the computer screen. But just to be extra safe nurses also have to scan the medication itself.

"Let's say she grabbed the wrong dose and she takes the medication and puts it on the scanner, the system will automatically generate a warning," said Dr. Robinson.

Binders that used to hold medical charts are piled on counters. At the Panorama City Kaiser, patient records are now stored electronically.

The bar code system is connected to the patient's medical information.

So if Landeros takes a medication that has a dangerous interaction with another drug he's taking or if he has an allergy, the program speaks up.

"The system will not let me do it," said Dr. Robinson.

Landeros says the bar code system gives him an added sense of security. Something, he'll be sure to mention on the hospital customer survey.

"And I will put down what I think which is good all the way," said Landeros.

 

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