barcodes in healthcare

Posted November 4, 2016 / By admin / 0 Comment

How Barcodes in Healthcare Prevent Litigation

Did you know that the total payout for medical malpractices in 2015 was close to $4 billion? Not exactly the statistic a patient wants to hear when he or she is laying in a hospital bed. They might not even be in that bed if it weren’t for a wrongful diagnosis, which accounts for 31% of medical malpractice cases. While human error can’t be eliminated completely, barcodes in the healthcare industry can prevent lawsuits.

The current status of barcodes in healthcare

Hospitals have come leaps and bounds from when barcoding in healthcare was first introduced. According to one study, only 3% of medical facilities used barcodes in 2001. Now, more than two-thirds of facilities have implemented a barcoding system. It’s not just hospitals that make use of this technology. In 2006, the FDA mandated that all drug manufacturers include barcodes on their medications.

The most common use of barcoding is for patient identification and administering medication. Institutions that implemented Barcode Medication Administration (BCMA) technology found that there was a 41% decrease in medication errors and 80% decline in diagnostic errors.

Prevent lab sample mix-ups and wrongful diagnosis

Laboratories constantly buzz with activity; therefore, there is a high chance that, at some point, samples can be swapped. While some mix-ups may be harmless, such as diagnosing someone who has strep throat with a common cold instead, other wrong diagnoses can be life-changing. For example, what if the wrong patient were diagnosed with cancer? More than 160,000 medical errors are made each year, thanks to misidentified specimens. Implementing a barcoding system in a laboratory will improve a lab’s efficiency and decrease the chances of a mix-up.

Making sure the right patient is receiving the right procedure

Not everyone can bounce back so easily from a misdiagnosis. Approximately 20% of medical malpractice cases are about infants receiving the incorrect treatment. It is commonplace for hospitals to have at least one newborn mix-up per year, although most are only temporary. In 2015, 30% of lawsuits pertained to the wrongful death of a patient. This statistic isn’t surprising when you know that, every week, surgeons accidentally perform the wrong procedure, sometimes on the wrong patient. Incorporating patient identification bracelets helps staff ensure that the intended patient receives the correct treatment.

Confirm that you’re administering the right dosage

It always pays to go the extra mile, especially when lives are on the line. Some hospitals go further by implementing Barcode Medication Preparation (BCMP) technology. BCMP scans the medication ingredients to make sure that the proper dosage is administered to the patient. Researchers examined 5 hospitals and found that 10% of all IVs were prepared incorrectly. This study didn’t just examine saline drips; these errors also included IVs used during chemotherapy. Despite these errors, less than 3% of hospitals implement BCMP technology. Using this technology to make sure medication is the proper strength can prevent many malpractice lawsuits.

Improve communication with your staff

It’s a running joke that doctors have poor handwriting, but illegible instructions can lead to sticky situations if other team members can’t read a patient’s chart. Furthermore, messy handwriting is risky because many medicine names look and sound the same. Barcodes come in all shapes and sizes, perfect for a patient’s identification bracelet or vaccine. Also, scanners now look like mobile phones, cutting down on the resources needed to train staff on a new technology.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are expensive. Massachusetts has the second highest payout per capita ($30.18) in the country, right behind New York’s $35.95. In 2015 alone, Massachusetts paid out $205,050,000, which is 13.6% higher than payments in 2014.

Limit your institution’s liability by implementing a barcoding system. You’ll not only increase your team’s accuracy, but also cut down on the amount of lawsuits you’re involved in. Contact Bar Code Direct today to schedule your no-obligation consultation.