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Electronic Medical Administration Saves Lives

Article posted on Wednesday, September, 22nd, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Electronic Medical Administration Saves Lives: Scan Me Please!

I had the opportunity to meet someone who has dedicated his life’s work to eliminating mistakes made during the process of administering medication in hospitals. He got my attention the second he said, “I won’t stop until….” There is no greater indicator of passion than a sentence that starts with those 4 words. And I knew immediately that we were kindred spirits.

His name is Mark Neuenschwander of The Neuenschwander Company and he consults with hospitals all over the country regarding electronic medication administration. Mark says that the #1 fear of patients in hospitals today is that they will be given the wrong medication. (You would think that it would be the fear of death – but I guess the 2 can be closely linked.)

Mark has data that breaks down the medication administration process and isolates areas where mistakes made by health care providers are most likely to reach the patient. It is staggering.He reports that over 7000 lives are lost each year due to patients receiving the wrong medication. (Either type or dose.) The total process has 11 different steps and can involve 10 or more people depending on the patient and health care facility.

Mistakes that are made near the beginning on the process, during ordering or transcribing the medication are least likely to make it to the patient. Probably because there are still plenty of opportunities for health care providers to catch the mistake. 38% of errors happen during the actual administering of the medication. The point at which the nurse gives the medicine to the patient. And for every 100 mistakes made during that step in the process, 37 of those errors are not caught meaning the patient gets the wrong (or wrong dose) of medication.

Here is the really sad part. Those errors can be almost completely eliminated if the health care provider uses electronic identification. Barcodes and scanners that can identify both the patient and the medicine and determine accuracy. But only 30% of health care providers today have these types of systems.

So how can you use this information to empower yourself? Simple.
Just say “Scan me, please.”  Check with your local hospitals to find out if they have some type of electronic medical administration system. If they don’t, go somewhere else. If they do, make sure they use it for you!

To learn more about in hospital patient care check out the Point of Care Forum.

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