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Technology keeps tabs on medication

PENN YAN—New technology at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hospital is being used to improve the accuracy of medications being given.
When a nurse is about to give a patient medicine, he new procedure requires that a bar code be scanned on the medication and on the patient’s wristband. If the medication is same the doctor has prescribed to be taken at that time, the nurse may administer it. However, if something does not check out, the computer attached to the scanner tells the nurse to double check what he or she has. All information the computer has access to is immediately up-to-date.
Leza Hassett, pharmacy director for the hospital, said when they were looking at ways to improve their services, they had good evidence to use the electronic Medical Administration Record (eMAR) from what they had read. According to the hospital, less than 10 percent of hospitals across the nation are successfully using such technology. Locally, Hassett said Soldiers & Sailors and Geneva General are the only local hospitals using it she knows of.
“We’re one of the first in the area,” she said.
The bar code scanner is similar to that one would see in grocery stores used by staff. It is attached to a mobile computer the nurse takes with them when giving out medications. It took the hospital about a year’s worth of planning to implement the eMAR. Hassett described the process as intensive. It also required education for the staff on how to use it. During the first few weeks the staff was actually using the eMAR, they had the help of on-hand system experts if they encountered any problems.
When the physician writes a prescription it first goes to the hospital’s pharmacy. Hassett said that there, they review it to make sure it is OK with the patient’s other medications or if they have any allergies to it. It is here that the medication is programmed into the computer system. The next time a patient is scheduled to take medicine, it will appear on the nurse’s computer screen.
According to the hospital, in addition to help reduce mistakes and overdoses, the new equipment also cuts down on paperwork.


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