HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Creighton University School of Law

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Bar Codes for Patients?

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.

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