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The Use of Barcodes in US Hospitals Saving Lives

As many as 7,000 people die in hospitals each year as a result of medication errors. Hospitals are turning to new technology to try and decrease the number of fatal medication errors.

You may be surprised to see a bar-coding device being used in a hospital. But it's the newest trend in the medical world. The device is used to ensure a patient gets his or her correct medicine.

Terry Ritchey is a nurse at Parker Adventist Hospital in the Midwestern city of Denver. She says, "It's a way to verify we are giving the right drug to the right patient, the right dose at the right time."

The process begins with a doctor's prescription. A pharmacist verifies it, then enters it into a bar-coding device, then fills it with bar-coded doses. Registered nurses then use the hand-held device to ensure accuracy.

The new electronic device not only helps hospital staff, but also provides comfort and protection for patients, such as Barbara Miller, who says, "Well, it makes me feel protected, number one, and that there's a lot of personal care taken for me."

All hospitals in the United States are reportedly moving to bar-coded systems.