Barcodes in healthcare have been brought about to up patent safety. As we all know this is a top priority of hospitals as well as keeping precise track of patient medication and records. Dating back to the 1970s this has been in process of becoming a reality. This greatly interests us at Barcodes 123 as we provide services to the administration staff of the hospitals who purchase from us for these exact purposes www.barcodes123.co.za These are ways in which barcodes are utilised by healthcare workers today.

Millions of people are admitted to hospitals worldwide every day, and in order to ensure that every single patients medical records, personal information and medication they need to receive while in hospital is on record and correct, barcodes were introduced and all vital information became digital. Although not all countries have transitioned over to complete digital records yet, some still make use of physical handwritten patient record files, they still incorporate codes into all the other aspects. When a patient is admitted to hospital they will be provided with a wrist band which will be worn throughout their stay which will contain a unique barcode, these barcodes will correspond and be a link to their health records which will be updated throughout their time in hospital. When they are administered medication, the nurse will be able to scan the wrist band barcode and the medication barcodes on the bottle as well as the hospital barcode which links her profile to the record so they are also aware of who administered the medication at what time, and it will update that they have received their correct medication dosage as per Wikipedia in this informative link Medication Barcodes this also applies for if any blood or specimen samples are required or if they have been sent to the lab and are awaiting results. There have been hundreds of thousands of medical errors over time due to the incorrect labelling of specimen or blood samples, this causes false test results and can ultimately result in a diagnosis of an illness that the patient does not have. Barcodes used for these pathology purposes can drastically reduce this number, they have also ensured that the barcodes used in pathology are able to withstand the conditions in which the are stored, be it water, damp, cold, heat etc. The same type of procedure is used for blood transfusions, since 2006 all blood donations are required to be barcoded, the information that is stored on each of these barcodes is information pertaining to the donor, the source of blood, the donor’s ID number, the product code, and of course blood type. Another way in which they are used is when a doctor prescribes medication for a patient, the prescription will be uploaded to the patient records and delivered electronically to the hospital pharmacy who will be able to scan the barcodes and see the exact medication and dosage the patient requires and will then send the medication to the ward, this eliminates manual writing out and human error, as human error in an instance like this can be the difference between life and death.

Barcodes also allow for hospitals to keep a tight ship on their stock inventory when it comes to medication, not only in the pharmacy but in the wards as well. We are sure that you are all aware that hospital staff are always stretched to the limit time wise and taking manual stock counts would be horrendous, therefore by having all medication barcoded it can be tallied using a scanner and have all records correct and up to date at all times. In addition, this allows the nurses and doctors to be alerted when they are running low on certain supplies, when to order more, and prevents over ordering and medication expiring which would be a stock loss and financial loss as well. It is not only the patients, samples and medication that barcodes in healthcare are used on, they are also used on all hospital equipment, such as surgical tools and equipment. Since 2016 trusts and hospitals have been using codes to keep track of all medical equipment from the time it arrives at the hospital to the time it is used on a patient. This ranges from all supplies such as from a sterile swap to a pacemaker. The Department of Health refers to it as the Scan4Safety initiative. This also allows for implants to be tracked down to a specific patient if needed, for example in 2010, 50 000 British women received faulty breast implants and due to the lack of adequate record keeping it was extremely difficult for the women to be tracked down, today each implant will have its own unique barcode assigned to it, so if need be it can be traced down.

Something that was new to us is to learn that surgeons have certain surgical instruments that they prefer to use in their surgeries and by having these instruments barcoded it allows for the surgeons team to always ensure that the correct instruments are provided as well as enabling hospital staff to be able too see which instruments are used more often than others in surgeries to always ensure they have enough stock. This is all done by surgical instruments being scanned in when entering the operating room. All these procedures are helping medical staff to have faith in all records being correct, to streamline processes as well as allow nurses and doctors to put all their thoughts into helping patients and not have to worry about record keeping being incorrect or incomplete. Doctors and nurses working hand in hand to eliminate stressors.


Being in the barcoding industry we are always happy when we hear about ways in which codes are being used to help people and industries. And using barcodes in healthcare is a big one. It is still growing and improving day by day and we will continue to research and provide articles on ways in which barcodes are used in this sector as it interests us greatly and we hope it does you two. Contact us if you have any barcoding enquiries or require barcodes for use in your business. We have dedicated staff to assist you.

Sources: Recommendations for Using Barcode in Hospital Process

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