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Results of a study at two hospitals to validate and test systems for bar-code-assisted medication administration (BCMA) are reported, including data on bar-code scanning failures and BCMA-related staff resource needs. To prepare for BCMA implementation, pharmacy inventories at the two study sites were characterized by scanning product bar codes with a handheld device. The custom database built to house BCMA data was programmed to match National Drug Code (NDC) information on package labels with NDC information in the BCMA database. The data collected during inventory scanning were used (1) to quantify and address failed bar-code scans, (2) to predict the number of products that would require repackaging and relabeling to ensure accurate bedside scans, and (3) to estimate full-time equivalent (FTE) staff resources for BCMA-related repackaging work. During inventory assessment, scanning failures occurred with about 12.5% of products at the two pharmacy sites, mainly due to the absence of a bar-code label (49-53% of failed scans) or the inability to identify NDCs within the package bar code (38-46% of failed scans). It was determined that 8-10% of products inventoried at the two sites would require repackaging before dispensing, with associated technician resource needs estimated at 0.3-0.5 unit of FTE labor. The results of inventory scanning revealed that most failed scans were attributable to the lack of a bar code on some products or problems with NDC recognition by the BCMA database. After those problems were addressed, a three-month pilot test on one patient care unit indicated an overall scanning success rate of >96%.


Jill Strykowski, Ron Hadsall, Bethany Sawchyn, Stacey VanSickle, Dan Niznick. Bar-code-assisted medication administration: a method for predicting repackaging resource needs. American journal of health-system pharmacy : AJHP : official journal of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. 2013 Jan 15;70(2):154-62

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PMID: 23292270

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