Safe Scan Seeks to Better Protect Patients

By: Lindsey Brown Email
By: Lindsey Brown Email

Officials at Riley Hospital say the facility has taken extra steps to make sure patients are never given the wrong medication.

When you think bar codes, you probably associate them with the retail industry. But now this technology has gone from groceries and clothes to patients in the hospital.

"In times past, you might grab a medicine that looks the same but isn't," said Riley director of pharmacy Tim Moore. "And you can have some bad consequences."

But the chances of that happening at Riley Hospital have been cut significantly now that the facility has implemented the Safe Scan System.

Every patient wears a wrist band with bar codes on it. Those bar codes correspond to the medications the patient is taking. Employees use a wireless device to scan the wristbands.

"We are here to make sure they are safe and to take care of them," said Donna Mitchell, nursing coordinator.

The dangers associated with medical errors were highlighted over the summer when actor Dennis Quad's newborn twins were given an overdose of the blood thinner Heparin. The babies recovered. Quaid appeared on Oprah this week to discuss his personal medical nightmare.

"That could have been prevented had they had this technology in place," said Moore.

But along with preventing overdoses or the wrong medications being given out, the Safe Scan System also alerts employees to patients' allergies and drugs that shouldn't be given together. It makes sure the correct people are giving the drugs and it even reminds nurses to check on patients.

A lot of emphasis is put on the nurses because they are the people who most commonly give out the drugs, but at Riley, any person who administers drugs is required to use the Safe Scan.

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