Pill tracker helps nurses keep tabs on patients

By Elizabeth Temple - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Hospital nurses see hundreds of patients and organize thousands of pills and prescriptions, but a new computer and scanning system is looking to ease their work load.

First they use a scanner, much like ones you see at a retail store, to scan the patient's hospital bracelet for identification. The computer program then pops up what medications the patient is prescribed and the dosage. The program can also alert nurses if they administer a wrong dose. The goal is to make sure the patient is receiving the correct dose and medication to avoid any life threatening accidents. In fact, according to an Institute of Medicine survey, 2 percent of all admitted patients have a medication error.

Also, the system can relieve nurses from deciphering messy handwriting on prescriptions which if read incorrectly could lead to a disastrous mistake.

McNeese State University is teaching their nursing students to use this pill tracking technology to help them keep up with the ever-changing medical field. Tamica Francois, a registered nurse at Christus St. Patrick Hospital, says the only drawback is time.

"It's not a time saver...it does take a little more time to scan each medication," said Francois.

MSU Assistant Professor Kim Conway-Pennick agrees saying, "until they get used to it, its just like anything else, it may take them a little bit longer time."

Both nurses also say the safety of a patient is more important than speed.

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