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In recognition of its landmark electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR) and barcoding system, Brigham and Women’s Hospital was co-recipient of the first Betsy Lehman Patient Safety Recognition Award for organizational excellence.
“This award is a credit to physicians, nurses and staff in many departments, including Pharmacy, Patient Care and Partners HealthCare IS. Their cooperation and dedication to our patients has made the implementation of eMAR and barcoding possible,” said Andy Whittemore, MD, chief medical officer, who accepted the award at the second annual Betsy Lehman Patient Safety Symposium on Monday. The award—which recognizes leadership and innovation in patient safety—honors Betsy Lehman, a Boston Globe health columnist who died in 1994 when she was accidentally given the wrong dosage
A national leader in patient safety efforts, BWH was one of the first hospitals to implement both pharmacy barcoding and scanning of all medications in 2003 and eMAR in 2005 to reduce medication errors. eMAR uses barcodes on medications similar to the way supermarkets use them on groceries. BWH places barcodes on patients’ medications, name bands and nurses’ badges. A nurse scans all three barcodes before administering a medication to ensure that each patient receives the right medication and dosage at the right time.
BWH is tracking the effects of technology on medication errors, and has found thus far that target pharmacy dispensing errors have decreased by 85 percent since implementation of eMAR.
BWH was one of the first hospitals in the country to use computers to prevent medication errors in 1993 when it began implementing computerized physician-order entry (CPOE). Today, BWH is one of the first organizations to create and put into place a fully integrated electronic medication system from start to finish, linking CPOE, pharmacy dispensing and eMAR in one seamless electronic medication administration system. Only 5 percent of hospitals nationwide have CPOE, and far fewer have the combination of CPOE, barcoding and eMAR that BWH maintains.
This comprehensive system for medication error reduction serves as a model for organizations across the country. Recently, Institute of Medicine President Harvey Fineberg, MD, PhD, led a delegation of top federal officials to BWH to learn about the eMAR and CPOE systems and the role information technology plays in enhancing patient safety.