Tuesday, October 8, 2013

RFID to Reduce Medical Errors

As discussed in class last week, many hospitals and physicians offices are utilizing RFID in their supply chains. While we spoke of the usefulness of RFID in the processes of getting medical supplies to facilities the technology is also a practical solution for distributing items to the patient, the final step of the health care supply chain. Health organizations are using RFID systems and other barcode systems to reduce the incidence of drug dispensing errors. Drug dispensing errors, which can lead to adverse drug effects, can occur during the prescription, filling, dispensing, or administration phases during the prescription process. Tech savvy hospitals with in-house pharmacies can implement a barcode on inpatient wristbands that must be scanned before nurses administer prescriptions. By scanning the wristband and the medicine, nurses ensure that the pills a patient receives are those their doctor intended based on their CPOE order. A study found that such a system reduced adverse drug events by over 60%.

Can this use of supply chain technology be used in other areas of health care? The ultimate dream for RFID in supply chain is to have products or resources "talk to" their suppliers and users. A potential for this could be the use of  RFID for medical devices. Imagine the impact if RFID could signal to physicians when a medical device is going to fail (e.g. implanting a hip replacement device two RFID chips so that they indicate when they are losing alignment before the hip slips/fails and the patient experiences intense pain)?

Source: 
http://www.himssanalytics.org/emram/stage7caseStudyKP.aspx

Poon, et al. Effect of Bar-code Technology on the Incidence of Medication Dispensing Errors and Potential Adverse Drug Events in a Hospital Pharmacy
<http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1560475/>

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