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Trusted Contributor
Posts: 141
Registered: ‎02-19-2010

Bar code technology in pharmacy

I know that bar code technology is another one of those hot items when it comes to healthcare technology.  Most of what I have read is in relation to Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA) to help reduce potential drug administration errors. 


During a user research call today, a client explained that they want to use bar code technology to help verify the correct medication component was grabbed for a compounded medication.  In addition, scanning a bar code can enter information into a system without the need to type it in, thus reducing a possible transcription error. 


This got me wondering where bar code technology is being used elsewhere in pharmacy.  Who is using bar coding currently?  What are you using it for?  I am also curious to learn how the technology is being accepted into every day practice.

Posts: 94
Registered: ‎02-26-2010

Re: Bar code technology in pharmacy

When I was working retail pharmacy years ago, we had barcode scanning to select the medication when entering new prescriptions. I can say that it was definitely an improvement against having to find it in the computer.


At the hospital system I am at now, we are in the process of exploring places where we can use barcodes to improve our workflows. For a while, a couple of our hospitals were piloting Cardinal Assist, in which our distributor would run a report to determine which medications were below our par levels in the Pyxis machines, and do the Pyxis fills themselves. These Pyxis fills would be delivered with the rest of our drug order in sealed bags with barcodes, already signed off by one of their pharmacists. When the pharmacy received it, all the technician has to do is take the sealed bag up to the medstation, scan the barcode, and if it matched, the machine would allow the restocking to take place in more or less the usual fashion. (Alas, since then we have changed distributors, so we can not longer use this service).


One of the obstacles that we are up against is that there are many unit dose packaging that do not have usable barcodes on them, so we are left with how we work around this, either by changing manufacturers to repackaging tablets on our own to overwrapping vials and so own. Creating this infrastructure, it appears, seems to be the first steps in implementing this. Like you, I would also like to hear about what other facilities are doing so that we can learn from your experiences.

Graham O'Hea, Pharmacy Systems Analyst
Posts: 92
Registered: ‎03-01-2010

Re: Bar code technology in pharmacy

We make extensive use of barcoding in our facility. A majority of our medicationa are stored and retrieved using barcoding technology. This includes IV preps.


Currently we use:

- Talyst AutoPharm/AutoCarousel/AutoPack/AutoLabel for barcoded tracking, storage and retrieval

- Siemens MAK (BCMA) at the bedside

- PARx at the Pyxis med stations


I know there's differing opinions regarding the use of barcoding technoloyg, but I think it's been beneficial to us. I also think it provides another layer of protection between the medication and the patient. Of course I have no data to back this up, just anecdotal evidence.