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Improving Healthcare Quality With Bar-Coded Medication Administration

The problem of medication errors is one of the cutest in the healthcare system. Therefore, it is highly crucial to come up with solutions to eliminate such inaccuracies that can lead to serious negative effects on patients. The topic of the paper is bar code medication administration (BCMA), and it has a positive impact on the delivery of health care in general and nursing care in particular. The application of accurate doses of drugs and reduction of the risk of wrong administration can promote better health outcomes and lead to higher patient satisfaction. The purpose of the paper is to illustrate the topic of BCMA and discuss its benefits for the healthcare system.

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Example of Bar Code Medication Administration

BCMA is applied in different hospital units since it is believed to be a highly effective method of avoiding medication errors. The system involves the adherence to the so-called five rights of administration: the right patient, drug, dose, route, and time (Shah, Lo, Babich, Tsao, & Bansback, 2016). However, it has been pointed out by researchers that the use of BCMA does not guarantee the absence of medication errors altogether (“Why neither the “five rights” nor bar code.” 2014). Thus, to reach the most beneficial effect, it is necessary to take into account such aspects as access to medications, the condition of packaging (readability of data), nursing rounds, and others.

An example of BCMA is the administration of medicine to patients in a mental health facility. The process of BCMA involves several steps, during each of which the nurse needs to be particularly attentive in order to do everything precisely and not cause any harm to the patient. The first step in implementing BCMA is authorizing an electronic health record (Strudwick, Clark, McBride, Sakal, & Kalia, 2017). Next, the healthcare specialist needs to scan both the medication and the patient identification form to make sure that they are relevant to the ordered drug (Strudwick et al., 2017). Upon completing these steps, the nurse administers medication.

In the given an example, everything is done in the same way as in any other healthcare setting. However, it is noted that the form of patient identification for persons staying in mental health facilities should be different from the usual identification method, which is a wristband (Strudwick et al., 2017). Patients admit that they feel stigmatized when they are forced to wear wristbands outside the facility. Thus, BCMA in mental health hospitals is considered an effective method of eliminating medication errors, but more convenient approaches to patient identification are needed. As alternatives, such methods as photo recognition or a necklace are suggested.

Personal Experience

There was one memorable event associated with BCMA in my practice. The case involved my colleague and two patients, and I cannot refer to the experience as positive. However, that event taught me several important lessons and helped me realize the procedure of BCMA better. We were working in the ear, nose, and throat unit, and there was a patient who was to receive ibuprofen three times a day due to having a middle ear infection. I administered the medicine at the end of my shift and left it for the nurse whose shift was after mine. However, the bar code on the package was damaged, as well as was the package of another drug ─ acetaminophen. The patient was allergic to acetaminophen, and I informed my colleague about that before leaving. Also, I told her which medication was which and asked her to sign them because I had no time to do that. Unfortunately, my colleague neglected my request, and when the next medication administration time came, she gave the patient acetaminophen instead of ibuprofen.

As a result of the mistake, the patient had a serious allergic reaction. Thus, having arrived at the hospital with the ear infection, the person was put at risk due to imperfections of the BCMA organization. The negative aspect of that experience was that the patient’s health deteriorated because of my lack of time and my colleague’s neglect. The situation could have been improved if drugs were signed appropriately after their package had been damaged. That case taught us that even the most perfectly arranged technical system could have drawbacks and that it is crucial for nurses to check all medication before administering it to patients. Since that event, I have been particularly cautious when administering medication and have never relied on my colleagues to sign the drugs, the package of which was damaged because of me.


The topic of the paper ─ bar code medication administration ─ is rather crucial in the healthcare setting because it can promote better patient outcomes due to fewer medication errors. The purpose of the assignment was to enrich the knowledge of BCMA and analyze the personal experience. The newfound insight will have a positive effect on my nursing care since now I know that BCMA has not only advantages but also disadvantages that can be eliminated with the correct actions performed by nurses.

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Shah, K., Lo, C., Babich, M., Tsao, N. W., & Bansback, N. J. (2016). Bar code medication administration technology: A systematic review of the impact on patient safety when used with computerized prescriber order entry and automated dispensing devices. The Canadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy, 69(5), 394-402.

Strudwick, G., Clark, C., McBride, B., Sakal, M., & Kalia, K. (2017). Thank you for asking: Exploring patient perceptions of barcode medication administration identification practices in inpatient mental health settings. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 105, 31-37.

Why neither the “five rights” nor bar code medication administration alone will prevent medication errors. (2014). Web.

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