How barcodes help save lives

Johannesburg, 23 Sep 2021
Read time 6min 00sec

GS1 barcodes have been used in a myriad of different ways over the years since the barcode was invented in the 1970s. Did you know that they have even been used to assist hospitals throughout the world to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of treating patients?

This little known fact makes them pretty remarkable and at Buy Barcodes, we have a passion for finding out more about the many remarkable ways in which barcodes are used in our world today.

The more efficient a hospital is, the more effective it will be at treating patients, and ultimately the more lives it can save. When patients are in crisis, time is of the essence and the more time that is saved, the faster one can act and the better the chances will be of saving the patient's life. Making mistakes in a hospital can be a matter of life or death and therefore this is something one wants to avoid at all costs. Using barcodes in hospitals may help limit the amount of human error that occurs, thus enabling hospitals to do the best job possible.

Benefiting the patient

Firstly, barcodes can be used on patient wristbands. When each patient enters the hospital, they are given a wristband, with a code on it. These barcodes can be used to store all of their personal information and in this way, the hospital can track the patient's entire stay electronically.

Secondly and very importantly, barcodes can be used to control a patient's medication and make 100% sure they are given the right medication and the right dose. It is crucial that medication be controlled and that no mistakes are made.

Hospitals work on a shift rotation basis with nurses from one shift handing over to nurses coming on duty. This makes it easy for mistakes to happen as the nurses coming on duty do not know what happened in the previous shift other than the information passed on by the previous nurse verbally.

With the barcode system in place, these nurses can simply scan the patient barcodes and see exactly what medication the patient is on and what the dosage is, as well as when their last dose was. These barcodes will also show what diet the patient is on and if the patient has any allergies. This makes hospitals safer and more efficient and more effective in treating their patients.

Thirdly, when a patient is going in for surgery, it is critical to ensure the correct procedure is performed on the correct patient. This seems obvious, but mistakes do happen, and this is one mistake no one wants to make. Using barcodes on the patient's wristband can ensure the nurse and doctors can double check that they do indeed have the correct person in theatre and have available to them all the patient's records without having to page through handwritten medical notes. This saves so much time, as we know hospitals and their staff do not have the luxury of time.

Tracking medical equipment

They can also be used to track and monitor the large amount of equipment that a hospital requires. The amount of equipment that is developed for hospitals is on the increase and this is making registered barcodes necessary to be able to track this equipment effectively.

As well as surgical instruments, some surgeons have their instruments barcoded, they engrave barcodes on each instrument. There was a case study done on this and an article written on how Robert Ballanger Hospital in France uses barcodes on its surgical instruments as in this way it is able to accurately keep track of each instrument that was used during a surgery to curb infection control, as well as to always ensure the correct kit of instruments is available at surgery.

Most surgeons have specific kits they like to use on all of their surgeries and by having the kit barcoded, the nursing staff can ensure all the correct instruments are present at the surgery. The kits are able to be made up beforehand.

Before checking into a hospital, each patient needs a bag to put their personal items into during their stay. A barcoding system can help to track these bags and make sure that if the patient needs to move rooms, the correct bag is transferred with them. This prevents any personal items going missing from the hospital, as we know can happen often.

In addition to this, barcodes and RFID tags are used in regulating and managing the blood bank efficiently and effectively, ensuring the correct blood type is dispensed for the correct patient.

Keeping tabs on security

Another important area in a hospital is security. Access to the hospital as a whole and also to specific areas of the hospital needs to be controlled so as to ensure only authorised personnel can access these critical areas. This is for everyone's safety.

Barcodes can be used to regulate this access and make sure that only those who are authorised have access to sensitive areas of the hospital. These barcodes are called RFID tags. RFID is short for Radio Frequency Identification. These tags are able to be scanned very fast and that is why they are used for security purposes, such as doors, gates, etc.

Some even have the option of activating a GPS tracker on them. The use of these tags to enter and exit buildings or certain areas of hospitals has begun increasing due to everyone looking for ways of having contactless security, as it also prevents the spread of viruses such as COVID-19. It involves much less risk than fingerprint scanning or physical opening with keys.

In conclusion, hospitals are set to develop more and more advanced technology when it comes to barcodes and the way in which they can be used to improve security, medical records, transportation of blood, samples and medication, as well as surgical procedures. From the outside it often looks like organised chaos. However, barcodes can help to streamline this chaos and ensure hospitals run like well-oiled machines.

Buy Barcodes is an official barcode reseller in South Africa. We supply registered barcodes most suited for small to medium-sized businesses that wish to get their products onto retail shelves quickly and effortlessly. If you would like more information about how barcodes can help your business, please do not hesitate to contact us - we are always happy to chat to you about all things barcodes.

Editorial contacts
Tony (079) 340 0808
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