Medication Errors, comment

The original post was May 23, 2007

I also use the BCMA (bar code medication administration) It is marvelous when it works. When the system does not work, the nurse has to make it work so the patients can get medications. One of the problems is when the electronic wand that scans the barcode cannot and does not work. The barcode neither on the armband nor on the medication can be read. The RN can enter the entire social security number in the computer and get into the patients medication list. The nurse then can obtain an EIN number and enter it. The EIN number is the number that correlates to the medication. So even with this entire computer high tech the system can be overridden.

I am not aware if we even have a MAR (this is the system we use to do) to go back to it if we had a disaster. I have had to make out physician orders on the old carbon copy paper system when the computers were down. The papers were faxed to the pharmacy and the pharmacy would bring the medications to the ICU.

The nurse must use the MAR of some type to state that he or she gave the medication. This can be entered later into the computer so a history of the drug administration would be consistent. The BCMA does help with the history of all of the medications the patient had received for this visit.

I can see that medication errors can still be made when the system is down. The system helps when it is working. If a medication is the wrong medication or if it is too early the BCMA will indicate, “Do not give this medication.”

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