More problematic barcodes

Recently I’ve heard of hospitals having problems with barcodes on pre-mixed IV bags. The problem isn’t related to the legibility or quality of the barcodes, but rather the location and/or the information contained within the barcode itself.

Here are a couple of examples of what I’m talking about.

  • The two images below represent pre-mixed IV bags that contain two separate barcodes located closely together on the bag. Unfortunately one of the barcodes is useless. One barcode contains the unique identifier for the medication, in most cases some form of the medication’s NDC number, while the other contains the product’s lot number and expiration information. While it’s nice to have the lot number and expiration information encoded in a barcode located directly on the medication packaging, it creates a problem as this barcode cannot be used to identify the medication. In addition the information in that barcode changes based on the lot number and expiration number, which basically means it’s changing all the time.

  • The image below is an interesting situation where the product contains two separate barcodes that are completely unrelated. In this specific example the product is “manufactured” from a secondary vendor by adding 20 units of pitocin to a 1 liter bag of normal saline. Unfortunately the barcode for the normal saline bag remains visible after the label identifying the compounded product is affixed to the bag. This creates confusion and frequent erroneous scans of the product.

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