Local hospital patients now given bar code wristbands

Local patients now given bar code wristbands
Updated: Apr. 17, 2012 at 7:20 AM CDT
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The same technology you would find in a grocery store check-out line is coming to a hospital near you!  Bar codes are linking patients to their prescribed medications, cutting down on the number of preventable medical errors.

When nurses roll into patient rooms at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital, they are rolling right along with their electronic nursing station on wheels.

Every patient now gets an arm band with a unique bar code - specific to them and their personal medical information.  "Every wristband is tied with a bar code and that bar code stays with the patient throughout their entire visit," said WCCH Chief Information Officer, Trey Rion.

Rion says this technology is part of the HiTech Act of 2009, requiring medical records to go digital and patient information to be streamlined in one place.  "We always try to meet the five rights: the right patient, right drug, right dose, right time and right route. This piece just kind of ties all that together," said Rion.

The concept is pretty simple. When a patient checks in, they get a wristband with a specific bar code. That will be linked to their medication. If an error pops up, the medical staff is instantly notified.

This is Lynelle Vice's first time seeing this digital bar code system and she says it was a very easy process.  "All they do is just scan you like they do at a grocery store, then they scan the medications," said Vice.

For someone like Vice, who has a life-threatening medication allergy, knowing that only the matched and scanned medication will be given to her is a huge relief.  "I can never have that medication again and so this makes me feel pretty comfortable," she said.

Preventing medication errors that cost nearly a billion dollars in the United States each year and an estimated 7,000 deaths.

West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital has also launched a web-based physician portal. It gives referring and staff physicians secure access to patient information wherever they are located.

Copyright KPLC 2012.  All Rights Reserved.