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The role of barcodes in patient safety

From the unique barcodes on wristbands patients receive when they enter hospital, to those which track medication and hospital equipment, there are a number of ways barcodes are used to help treat patients and ensure their safety.

In last year’s budget, a £2.1bn investment was announced to improve efficiency and security in the NHS. This will go into technology and data, such as barcode scanning equipment, to ensure digital systems within hospitals and other health care settings are as robust and connected as possible.

Here’s how barcodes play an important role in the healthcare industry and patient safety:

Building an audit trail

Barcode solutions in healthcare help organise the patient admittance process, patient identification and track the administration of their medication and care.

Collecting this information with barcodes enables a complete audit trail to be created for each patient’s stay, meaning every detail is accounted for and can be accessed by doctors or nurses as needed. 

One example of how this is information is collected is through barcode wristbands, which are given to patients at the time of their admission into hospital. These act like an ID, holding all the necessary information about them and their medical needs.

Most patient records like medical reports, medication and specimen samples are tagged with barcode labels and can be printed via mobile printers, helping to improve audit processes.

Avoid medical errors

Barcodes can be used to help eliminate avoidable harm in hospitals, including errors such as patients being prescribed the wrong medication.

They can be scanned to show which member of staff administered each treatment, at what time and where.

Today, patient information can be easily and instantly collected and recorded, which means less time is spent by NHS staff manually inputting data to spreadsheets or other records – this could lead to a number of errors.

Support medication management

In busy pharmacies and hospitals, inventory management is challenging. Barcodes streamline this process by ensuring complete visibility of stock. As a result, the right medications and equipment are available whenever and wherever they are needed.

MICS Medicines Inventory Control System is our medicine stock management system that works with Zebra barcode scanners and our smart locker technology to deliver complete control over medication and its administration.

Medical supplies are managed by item, batch number and expiry date, reducing stock wastage and the risk of recalled or expired stock being issued. Recalled batches of medical supplies can be instantly identified and removed from supply chain and stock nearing its expiry date is prioritised over other items.

Manage prescribing process

Zebra’s pharmacy barcode scanners and label printers help to improve dispensing accuracy. Quickly and easily track medications and compare them against the prescription order. This ensures the correct medication is dispensed in the correct dosage for the intended patient.

Zebra barcode scanners and mobile computers 

Medication stock management can be time consuming and also present opportunities for errors. With Zebra mobile computers and barcode scanners, clinicians can ensure the right patient receives the right medication at the right time.

Streamline processes

Whether admitting a patient, administering medication, collecting a specimen or performing inventory management, there’s no room for error. Now clinicians have the power to get it all done right with the Zebra DS2200 Scanner Series for Healthcare. 

This works alongside the TC52x-HC mobile computer. It has a large full HD display for improved patient engagements, optimised voice capabilities, a disinfectant-ready design, and the full suite of Mobility DNA solutions.

The TC21-HC and TC26-HC mobile computers also enable the highest quality care. These small, easy-to-carry devices are big on features, offering the very latest in advanced mobile technologies, removable batteries for around-the-clock operations and the power to run all the applications, designed with healthcare grade materials built to take constant disinfecting.

The Zebra TC52x-HC Series, TC21-HC/TC26-HC Mobile Computer and DS2200-HC Series Scanner work seamlessly with the ExPD MICS system. A complete inventory control software that works to improve the administration of medicines, reduce prescribing errors and prevent medicine wastage.

If you’d like to find out more about Zebra products or our bespoke medicine stock management system, get in touch with our team at 

If you’d like further information on how MICS could benefit your healthcare setting – our ‘Expert’ team are ready to help.

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