Barcodes drafted in to support patient identification
May 17th 2013
By Nick Cassells
The UK will always be proud to hold the NHS to its hearts as one of its greatest innovations. However as we travel further into the millennium, population continues to increase, technology is changing all the time, money is scarce due to the recession, and we are constantly needing to provide for an ageing community because of advances in medicine. Hence the pressures and demand on NHS doctors, nurses and administration staff is now at breaking point and some question whether it can continue in its current form.
Digitally-aided patient identification
One new system which is being introduced into hospitals is digitally-aided patient identification. As well as speeding up processes it is hoped that it will also prevent likely human mistakes and also offer a system that is totally paperless. The latter factor here will meet the challenge set by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has called for the total eradication of paper-based records within the NHS by 2018.
Patients receiving the wrong care
It is unfortunate but a fact that statistics have clearly shown that patients in hospital have been given the wrong care. This has been largely tracked back to the system where patient are identified by their wristband. The new system using barcodes is in its infancy, but the GS1 is very supportive in helping trust managers understand digitally-aided patient identification. In May they held a conference in Coventry to promote use of the system across the UK.
Using barcodes in the NHS offers:
- A reduced need for paperwork, thus saving NHS time and money
- A simple, standardised way to identify patients and make sure they receive the correct treatment (it has been estimated that as many as 3,300 patients per year may have received the wrong care due to unstandardised wristband confusion)
- An easy way to determine the authenticity of medicines and eliminate counterfeit drugs
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