Hospitals would be best served barcoding medicines in hospitals to prevent medical mishaps as RFID technology is too expensive and hospitals are not ready for it, the Health Ministry's manager of compliance Dr. Bruce Anderson says.
Anderson was responding to comments by IBM Business Consulting partner Bill Doak, who said there was a great opportunity for New Zealand to "skip a technology" by dispensing with the barcoding of medicines and jumping straight to RFID to reduce medical mishaps.
A middle ground is emerging, where barcodes would be used to prevent prescribing errors, but RFID would be used to monitor pharmaceutical stocks and for other applications in hospitals. Health Minister Pete Hodgson announced recently that he expected a plan to barcode patients, staff and medicines in hospitals to proceed, with a committee set up to investigate the proposal about to recommend it. Before medication was administered to a patient, a clinician would scan a barcode on the patient's wristband, a barcode on their own staff ID tag, and one on the dose of medication itself. Software would check the information against the patient's record and automatically alert the clinician if there had been a mistake.
Anderson says that as individual doses of medicine will be monitored, the cost of RFID tags precludes their use. "In five or 10 years it might become the dominant technology. But if you are going to put tags on every individual dose when you are putting out 30 million doses it soon becomes very, very expensive. I just don't think this is the time for it."
Source: Stuff Media, http://www.stuff.co.nz
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