Palmerston North Hospital ditches paper for barcodes

August 11th, 2014 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Business Process Automation | Document and Information Capture | Document Management | Workflow

Palmerston North Hospital in New Zealand has recently installed barcodes on its syringes in order to move toward a paperless hospital and enhance patient safety. 

A spokesman for the MidCentral District Health Board said that the move was made in order to cut back the use of paper in the hospital, according to the Manawatu Standard. The system is used to better keep track of patients' information to ensure accurate dosages of anesthesia. Instead of sending patient data from place-to-place with stacks of paper, information is now sent electronically. The system can be used from the pre-operative clinic through to the post anesthetic care unit. 

The system records information about patients and then uses the data to ensure that the drug and dosage to be administered are correct. The content management system is able to track a multitude of the facets of the patients health including; the patient's medical history before surgery; data from his or her examination; medication use, allergies and the potential risk factor the patient has in regard to anesthesia. 

Better management of anesthesia dosage is essential to reducing potential fatalities. While the drug is essentially safe for the general population, some patients are at risk for a life threatening reaction and knowing this before hand is made exponentially easier with technology that lacks the capacity for human error. In the 1980s four patients per every one million dosed with anesthesia died, according to Times. As recently as 2011 the number has grown to 7 patients for every one million doses. 

The elimination of paper from the hospital has cut this error rate and made dosing anesthesia both safer and more efficient. In addition, records at the hospital are more accurate due to the implementation of barcodes. DHB medical head anesthetist Dr. Alberto Ramirez said that he believes since the document management software replaced the hospital's paper records the drug error rate has been slashed by 35 percent. 

Going paperless holds a number of advantages for businesses across industries. It has done wonders by saving lives at Palmerston North Hospital, but the benefits go further than that. Efficiency and cost-savings are the keys behind most switches away from paper, according to the Houston Chronicle. One advantage that can help out businesses of all sizes is the fact that getting rid of paper saves space – a lot of it. This allows for improved maneuverability and the storage of more important things, such as medical instruments or brand new life-saving technologies. 

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