Bar Coding Leads the Way
In a typical eMAR process, a physician writes an order for medication, the pharmacist dispenses bar coded single doses, and the doses are delivered to a mobile medication cart. Before rounds, a staff nurse reviews the administration schedule.
At the patient bedside, a nurse scans both the patient’s and the medication’s bar codes before administering the drugs. The bar code on the patient's wristband accesses the patient's electronic health record (EHR) to verify the order for that medication. (Patient wristbands and EHRs can also contain information on allergies, drug interactions, duplicate therapies, and potential dosage errors.)
Verification at the Point of Care
The nurse reviews any warning messages that result from “Five Rights” verification and determines if further actions are needed before proceeding. As he or she completes medication administration, every action is recorded, and data is added to the patient’s EHR. All of this greatly reduces the risk of giving a wrong medication or dosage to a patient.
Carts Play a Strong Supporting Role
Mobile carts work very well for electronic medication administration. They have become lighter and stronger, with better battery life, and cart vendors customize the equipment to fit the unique needs of their clients.
Caregivers can load a mobile cart with medications for multiple patients. It’s also a convenient place to keep wireless barcode scanners handy for wristband scans. The cart set-up enables nurses to work through the hospital’s medication administration software in real-time and have an active work list on screen while administering meds.
Carts are more costly than mobile devices, which has motivated some organizations to explore replacing carts in various acute care departments with small notebooks or tablet PCs. However, mobile carts currently remain the preferred medication administration solution for many. Nurses like having a larger screen with bigger fonts, a mouse, and spot to place items when administering care.