A “no-mistakes sponge system” — bar-coded sponges in the OR

While not directly related to pharmacy, the SurgiCount Safety-Sponge System is kinda’ cool. The system uses low-tech barcode technology to prevent surgical sponges from being left behind in patients. Simple yet effective.

The system uses sterile bar-coded sponges and a computer tablet loaded with proprietary software to ensure that all sponges are tracked. After approximately 11 million surgical procedures over the last five years, which involved the use of more than 200 million sponges, the system boasts zero sponges left behind.” source: MLive

The lowly barcode gets a bum wrap sometimes. It’s far from perfect, but overall I believe the use of barcodes has improved safety throughout the healthcare environment. I remember just a few short years ago when barcode scanning was uncommon. Now, not so much. “Overall, 92.6% of hospitals have barcode-assisted medication administration (BCMA) systems to verify patient identity and electronically check doses administered by nurses (Table 2). Over the past 13 years, the percentage of hospitals having BCMA has increased from 1.5% in 2002.“(1) I get calls in the pharmacy from nurses refusing to administer medication because they’re unable to scan the medication barcode. We’ve come a long way.

(1) Pedersen C, Schneider P, Scheckelhoff D. ASHP national survey of pharmacy practice in hospital settings: Prescribing and transcribing—2016. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. 2017;74(17):1336-1352. doi:10.2146/ajhp170228.

Aethon launches TraySafe at #ASHPSM15 in Denver

I’ve been at the ASHP Summer Meeting in Denver this week roaming the exhibit hall looking for interesting new products. One product that caught my attention was TraySafe by Aethon.

TraySafe is a medication tray management system. There are several such systems currently on the market, but what makes TraySafe different is its approach to the replenishment process. The system utilizes a combination of photo recognition and barcode scanning to analyze tray content and notify the user of items that are missing, in the wrong location, or about to expire.

Continue reading Aethon launches TraySafe at #ASHPSM15 in Denver

Saturday morning coffee [July 14 2012]

So much happens each and every week that it’s hard to keep up sometimes. Here are some of the taps that are open in my browser this morning along with some random thoughts….

The coffee mug to the right was part of a Pharmacy Week swag bag when I was still a real pharmacist. Pharmacy Week occurs yearly in October. It’s an attempt by some of the professional pharmacy organizations to increase the publics awareness of the profession. It also gives the pharmacists employer a chance to hand our “atta’ boys”. One year I received a folding beach chair, another year I recieved a water bottle, and so on. Not sure what year I received this mug, though. I haven’t actually worked as a pharmacist for a couple of years so it’s been at least that long.
Continue reading Saturday morning coffee [July 14 2012]

Using bar codes and a cell phone camera to avoid food allergies


ScanAvert is an application that uses the camera on your cell phone to read product bar codes and compare the ingredients to a personalized allergy list on the company website. The product was launched at the Health 2.0 conference in San Francisco this week and is apparently still in the beta phase.

Consumers register for the service at our website, creating a profile from the allergy, prescription, dietary requirement/restriction, and illness categories. They may also establish limits on any of the nutritional values, e.g., carbohydrates, calories. In store aisles, customers scan product barcodes, with their auto focus camera phones, to receive instant feedback as to product compatibility/incompatibility and suggested compatible substitutes.

Our technology will enable shoppers to determine that the products they are purchasing for themselves and their families are compatible with their allergic, prescription, or dietary profiles, e.g., void of peanuts, or, do not contain gluten, an ingredient considered harmful to an individual with Celiac Disease.

The value proposition of ScanAvert is its simplicity and ease of use for the numerous and varied demographic populations that will reap its benefits. For the supermarket, restaurant chain, or food service vendor, it is a unique way to distinguish itself from competition and to provide a new and valuable service for a significant portion of their customer base.

ScanAvert uses First DataBank, a well respected drug information source, to check for information on incompatibilities between prescription drugs and substances found in grocery products. This would be a great application for those with food related allergies.

Thoughts on creating a BCMA cross reference file

zebra_barcode2Our facility is gearing up to implement bar code medication administration (BCMA) in February 2010. Part of getting ready is making sure that all the medications dispensed from the pharmacy are bar code ready. If the medication isn’t bar coded or won’t scan, then it won’t do the nurse much good at the bedside. We’re in pretty good shape secondary to our carousel install in February of 2008. Everything that gets stored in the carousel is already bar coded. I had hoped that the file stored in our AutoPharm, i.e. carousel, cross reference file could simply be dropped into our Siemens Pharmacy cross reference file, but that would have been too easy. Siemens refused to play nicely with the data.
Continue reading Thoughts on creating a BCMA cross reference file

Pediatric labels for bar code medication administration (BCMA)

One of the questions marks surrounding BCMA, known as MAK in Siemens language, is how to label pediatric oral syringes. Unlike most adult unit-dosed medications, pediatric dosages come in a variety of sizes. Where an adult patient may receive 25mg of captopril, a pediatric patient may receive a range of doses based on weight (0.15-0.3 mg/kg/dose for infants). The captopril tablet used by adults is barcode ready from the manufacturer. The pediatric dose, on the other hand, is not. For pediatric patients we compound a 0.75mg/mL oral suspension and pull the doses into oral syringes based on the provider’s order. Captopril is only one example as we do the same for hydralazine, spironolactone, propranolol, sildenafil, etc.
Continue reading Pediatric labels for bar code medication administration (BCMA)

RFID vs. barcode

Barcode.com: “RFID, or radio frequency technology, uses a tag applied to a product in order to identify and track it via radio waves. The 2 parts that make up the tag are an integrated circuit and an antenna. While the circuit processes and stores information, the antenna transmits signals to the RFID reader, also called an interrogator, in order to interpret the data in the tag. In contrast, a barcode is an optical representation of data that can be scanned and then interpreted. The data is represented by the width and spacing of parallel lines, and are often used in POS applications, in addition to tracking objects throughout the supply chain.” – The article goes on to give the advantages of both technologies. The more I read about RFID technology, the more interested I become. While the technology hasn’t really caught fire in health care, I think the utility of RFID demands further investigation.

Apple patent details RFID tag reader.

9to5mac.com: “RFID reader built into the screen?  We’re not quite sure why they’d need to do this (as opposed to putting the reader somewhere else in the device) but Apple has put a patent application on this.” – In addition, the US Patent and Trademark Office lists the following: “The efficient incorporation of RFID circuitry within touch sensor panel circuitry is disclosed. The RFID antenna can be placed in the touch sensor panel, such that the touch sensor panel can now additionally function as an RFID transponder. No separate space-consuming RFID antenna is necessary. Loops (single or multiple) forming the loop antenna of the RFID circuit (for either reader or tag applications) can be formed from metal on the same layer as metal traces formed in the borders of a substrate. Forming loops from metal on the same layer as the metal traces are advantageous in that the loops can be formed during the same processing step as the metal traces, without requiring a separate metal layer.” I can think of several uses for an iPhone with a built in RFID Tag reader, it can already read barcodes. The iPhone just keeps getting cooler and cooler.