Bar-code musings

Bar-code verbiage
Last week I posted some examples of difficult bar-codes. The post was well received and generated a fair number of comments; for me anyway. One of the commenters, John Nachtrieb of Fotel, had this to say: “Jerry: Another comment–The ASHP Statement on Barcode Verification (If I’m reading it accurately) speaks about using a barcode to verify that the medication is correct, which is a different usage of the term “verify” than I think you are using. Barcode pro’s use “verify” the same way you do–making sure the symbol is “legible” to the scanner. Then there is the issue of “validation” which, in the parlance of barcode professionals, refers to making sure the barcode correctly identifies the product it’s on.”

I had no idea that there was a clear-cut difference in the usage of validation and verification. I reached out to Mark Neuenschwander of the Neuenschwander Company and co-founder of the unSUMMIT for clarification. I figured he would know what the difference was, and he did. In a nutshell validation is the quality assurance process while verification is the measuring and grading of the printed bar-code. He referred me to the GS1 website for clarification. He also indicated that the term ‘verification’ is used differently in healthcare than in manufacturing.

Confusing, no? Yes. Well, it is to me anyway. Ultimately Neuenschwander said the most important thing was to get the labeling right. I can live with that.

Microsoft Tags
I was discussing the fate of Microsoft Tags with a colleague the other day. It’s hard to imagine that these little beauties will survive in a world where other types of bar-codes are already well established. The one thing that Microsoft Tags offer over other bar-codes is color. I find my eyes drawn to them over their black and white counterparts. This is true even when the Microsoft Tag is located near the bottom edge of the page. The other thing I like about Microsoft Tags is the ability to look at usage analytics. That’s pretty cool.

For an interesting view on Microsoft Tags and healthcare check out The Medical Quack.

Individual medication bar-codes
One bar-coding problems we’re having is with multiple unit-dosed items packaged together in a single package. Examples of medications like this include levalbuterol and budesonide unit-dose inhalation. The unit-dose inhalations are not individually bar-coded. Once the package is open you’re left with several unit-dose inhalations without a bar-code, which means there’s nothing for the nurses or respiratory therapists to scan.

We’ve solved the problem by placing pre-printed bar-code labels in the Pyxis units with the unit-dose inhalations. I don’t care for this solution as it creates new opportunity for error with labels attached to the wrong unit-dose package or loose bar-code labels floating around the nursing units. Our wholesaler has some respiratory medications like albuterol and ipratropium in ready to use unit-dose packaging. Unfortunately levalbuterol and budesonide aren’t currently available this way.

Barcoding End-to-End Solutions: From Pharmacy to Bedside Webinar
Available dates and times:

  • June 17, 2010 12:00 pm, Central Daylight Time (Chicago, GMT-05:00)
  • June 17, 2010 1:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (New York, GMT-04:00)
  • June 17, 2010 11:00 am, Mountain Daylight Time (Denver, GMT-06:00)
  • June 17, 2010 10:00 am, Pacific Daylight Time (San Francisco, GMT-07:00)

Information on this webinar can be found here.

The slide set can be downloaded here (PDF).

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