Eisenhower Mem. 1st CA hospital to use Bridge barcode system to prevent medication errors

May 20, 2002

Eisenhower Medical Center (EMC) President and CEO G. Aubrey Serfling announced today that Eisenhower is the first California healthcare provider to embark on a program to use barcode technology to intercept both medication and blood transfusion errors at the hospital bedside. EMC has contracted to begin deploying Bridge Medical's MedPoint™ patient safety software system at its 261-bed Eisenhower Memorial Hospital.

Both EMC and Bridge are in Southern California and both are pioneers in their respective fields. In addition to Eisenhower Memorial--the Coachella Valley's only not-for-profit hospital--EMC also includes the Betty Ford Center, Barbara Sinatra Children's Center and Annenberg Center for Health Sciences.

"Our new agreement with Bridge is consistent with Eisenhower's longterm commitment to deliver the best and safest possible healthcare," said Serfling. "We are continuously improving patient care and service through the study, analysis and refinement of all our processes and systems. Deploying Bridge's state-of-the-art technology is one of many steps we are taking to continue to fulfill our pledge to give Eisenhower patients the most advanced, error-free care possible.

"Many of our patients are seniors. Most take many medications. Some are already in fragile health before they get here. MedPoint is an additional safety mechanism to ensure that all our patients-- especially the most vulnerable--are as safe as possible."

First Drug/Blood/Lab Error Safeguard

MedPoint is the only barcode-enabled point-of-care (BPOC) software system to afford hospitals the assurance of medication administration verification, and blood product administration verification, and laboratory specimen identification. The award-winning technology has been endorsed by several leading hospital associations for its unique ability to keep hospital patients safe from these three common error categories.

"MedPoint acts as a safety net at the bedside before medications or blood products are administered," explained Bridge Senior VP Kris Wanamaker. "Nurses scan the barcode of the medication or blood product to be administered, the patient's ID and their own ID. Then through the use of expert databases and wireless communications, MedPoint enables the nurse to verify the 'five rights' of medication administration (right patient, drug, dose, time and route of administration), and check for safe dosing levels."

No More Confusing 'Look-alikes,' 'Sound-alikes'

Confusion over the similarity of drug names (when either written or spoken) accounts for approximately 15 percent of all errors reported to the U.S. Pharmacopeia Medication Errors Reporting (MER) Program. In fact, the USP has identified hundreds of confusing drug name sets. These and other findings prompted the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHO) to require hospitals to review medication use policies and procedures to reduce the high potential for error of "look-alike" and "sound-alike" drugs.

"With MedPoint, we won't have to worry," said EMH Pharmacy Director Ray Miller, PharmD. "Nurses are alerted to look-alike, sound-alike medication packaging and labeling, and other potential hazards."

Easy Reg Compliance

In 1999, an Institute of Medicine report cited studies that demonstrated approximately one-half of adverse events resulting from medical errors could have been prevented. California, one of the first states to respond, enacted legislation requiring hospitals and other licensed healthcare facilities to submit formal plans to eliminate or substantially reduce medication errors by Jan. 1, 2002.

"We included our intent to implement barcode technology in our error-reduction plan," said Miller. "Barcode technology like MedPoint has been extensively tested at hospitals around the country, so it was easy to describe how it will protect our patients from preventable medication errors.

"Barcode technology is clearly more affordable, effective and easier to install than many of the other types of error-reduction technologies advocated today. And given Bridge's experience, we're convinced implementation will be smooth and adoption rapid. After all, learning to use a barcode scanner is a lot easier than trying to remember the characteristics of all the drugs in the Eisenhower formulary!"

With MedPoint scheduled to "go live" in early 2003, Miller said the hospital expects to comply with a newly enacted provision of the California Health and Safety Code, requiring facilities to implement their safety plans by Jan. 1, 2005, way ahead of schedule.

"MedPoint will also help us comply with many of the new JCAHO patient safety standards that take effect June 1 of this year as well."

BPOC, Not CPOE

Eisenhower's error-reduction plan wasn't developed overnight, explained David B. Kaminsky, MD, chairman of Eisenhower's Pathology Department and the hospital board's Quality Committee. "We investigated a variety of error-reduction strategies, carefully assessing cost, outcomes and implementation times. Barcoding--a proven technology that has been used successfully in supermarkets for years--was clearly the single most effective one we found since it can intercept a significant percentage of potential medication errors in one easy swipe of the scanner."

Barcoding has other major advantages, added Kaminsky. "We can implement MedPoint house-wide in one-third the time of a CPOE (computerized prescriber order entry) system. And, it costs 70 percent less.

"CPOE (a controversial error-reduction strategy advocated by Leapfrog, an employer group) only prevents errors during the medication-ordering phase. It does not impact the medication errors that occur during the medication-administration phase. Barcoding upon administration provides a safety net to catch errors that occur in all phases of the medication use process.

"When all's said and done, Leapfrog members just want to ensure their employees' right to expect safe, quality care. MedPoint enables Eisenhower to comply with the spirit of Leapfrog in a timely fashion.

"We do plan to implement CPOE and a computerized patient record when the time is right. As we move towards full automation, barcoding helps acclimate our nurses to computer use at the point of care and provides an affordable solution that will have maximum impact on patient safety."

Safe Patients Mean Safe Nurses

Eisenhower has a history of staying ahead of safety and quality directives while other hospitals struggle to simply keep up, said Wanamaker. In January, California Gov. Gray Davis released government-mandated nurse-to-patient ratios for California's acute care hospitals. "Like every other hospital, Eisenhower is dealing with a critical nursing shortage," noted Serfling. "Nevertheless, we continue to maintain these increased ratios, which we implemented several years ago, because they clearly benefit our patients.

"It's no different with MedPoint. We've chosen to implement the most effective patient safety technology on the market today because it's the right thing to do. And given the nursing shortage, it makes sense to invest in technology that supports nursing best practices.

"Safe patients mean safe nurses, and nurses vote with their feet. They choose workplaces that respect and protect them. Implementing MedPoint tells nurses we recognize they have a tough job and that errors usually result from a system failure, not a personal one. Deploying MedPoint demonstrates our commitment to protect nurses from the emotional anguish and professional consequences errors can cause.

"MedPoint was a smart business decision that enables us to do what's right for our patients and nurses."

Taking Patient Safety to a New Level at Annenberg V

One of the many examples of EMC's longstanding commitment to patient safety is the Annenberg Center, an institution renowned for its national patient safety forums.

"The first three in the series were seminal events in the field of patient safety," said Kaminsky, vice president of the Annenberg board. "Along with 'Beyond Blame,' Bridge's famous documentary, the forums helped draw industry attention to medical errors and are proof positive of Eisenhower's historic dedication to researching and resolving this problem."

Held in Indianapolis this April, the fourth was designed to give healthcare professionals "practical tools and approaches to move us to new levels of action," explained Kaminsky. "We plan to present the error-reduction results we expect to achieve with MedPoint at Annenberg V so we can demonstrate how barcode technology is helping hospitals raise the bar on patient safety."
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About Eisenhower

Eisenhower Medical Center is a not-for-profit, comprehensive health care institution. The campus includes the 261-bed Eisenhower Memorial Hospital, the Betty Ford Center, the Barbara Sinatra Children's Center, and the Annenberg Center for Health Sciences. Situated on 120 acres in Rancho Mirage, the medical center has provided a full range of quality medical and educational services for 30 years for residents and visitors to the greater Coachella Valley. For more information, visit www.emc.org.

About Bridge

Founded in 1996, Bridge Medical, Inc., is an information technology firm that has pioneered the use of barcode technology in healthcare. Headquartered in Solana Beach, Calif., Bridge has been honored for its patient safety solutions and educational initiatives. For info, visit www.bridgemedical.com.

MedPoint is a trademark of Bridge Medical, Inc.

Bridge Medical, Inc.

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