Beware of nurses who work around bar coding


A new study by Pennsylvania researchers finds that 31 problems cause nurses to work around bar codes.

Bar coding in hospitals isn’t a cure-all for medication administration errors because many nurses are using workarounds when confronted with problems with the technology. That’s the conclusion of a new study by researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. After studying five hospitals, they found that there are 31 causes of problems that trigger workarounds by nurses. They range from unreadable medication bar codes to lost wireless connectivity. Nurses compensate for the technology by devising 15 types of workarounds. The researchers recommend that hospitals carefully observe on-the-floor workflow to make sure the technology is working properly. The study results appear in theJuly/August issue of the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

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