Wednesday, December 1, 2004
In terms of increasing healthcare quality, I must admit that it hadn't crossed my mind that those supermarket bar codes might be part of the answer. According to an article on themedicalinformaticsweblog, Sutter Health, a California-based hospital chain has started bar coding patients and their medications. In the year since they first established their new system, Sutter found the bar codes decreased medication mix-ups and avoided many potentially dangerous errors. Sutter introduced the bar codes (which are kept at the patient's bedside (just in case you feared a patient tatoo)) after the Institute of Medicine's report showed that many fatal medical mistakes occurring in hospitals were preventable.
From the article, it appears to have been a very successful program. I just hope that they don't use the same type of annoyingly loud beeping scanners that many retail stores use - it is hard enough to get rest in the hospital without extra scanner noises.