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Patient Safety

A hospital patient should expect that the medications he receives in the hospital will be exactly what the doctor ordered.  With innovative bar-coding technology called eMAR, West Florida Hospital’s patients can be confident that the medications they receive will be accurate—every time. 

With eMAR (Electronic Medication Administration Record), nurses and respiratory therapists use a new electronic bar-coding system to administer medications to patients.  Combining scanners with computer technology for use on bedside nursing carts, eMAR ensures that patients receive the proper medications, in the proper dosage, in the appropriate form (oral, intravenous, etc.) and at the correct time. 

West Florida Hospital has utilized the electronic bar-coding system since 2003.

“Patient safety has always been a high priority at West Florida Hospital, but the new eMAR system affords our patients an even higher level of confidence,” said Carol Saxton, Chief Nursing Officer.  “West Florida Hospital is proud to be at the forefront of this issue by taking such a proactive approach.  With eMAR, our patients can be certain that we are doing all we can to ensure their complete safety while they’re in our care.”

Upon admission to West Florida Hospital, each patient receives a special bar-coded armband that nurses and respiratory therapists will scan whenever medication is administered.  The barcode corresponds to the patient’s current drug history, including allergies and side effects, which is input into the hospital’s computer system. 

Each patient’s medication dosage is also bar-coded in the hospital pharmacy. The system also checks potency dates and possible drug interactions with multiple prescriptions.  If one of the qualifying factors does not match, several warnings appear on the computer screen to alert the nurse or therapist to double check, verify and/or call the physician before administering the medication.

West Florida Hospital is one of the first in the country to implement the new system, which is being introduced throughout parent company HCA’s 200 hospitals in 24 states. HCA adapted the scanning component to software developed by Medical Information Technology, Inc. (MEDITECH), a software and service company specializing in health care information systems technology for hospitals and health systems in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

The hospital has been using Meditech's electronic charting since 1997.  Hospital staff can easily access patients’ medical records by computer, including physicians’ reports, nursing notes, lab results, radiology results, and other test results.  Physicians can also view the records from their offices as well as from hospital computers.  Designed to be the next component following electronic charting, eMAR will give physicians and caregivers the ability to electronically view the medication documentation in addition to other medical records.