Safeguarding children from medication errors

A new bedside medication verification (BMV) system has been implemented at Children’s Hospital Central California. Deployed in August 2008, the system uses a special wireless tablet computer to streamline the medication administration and documentation process.

Beverly Hayden-Pugh, VP and chief nursing officer at the hospital, says, "Information about administration of medication is now available in real time housewide. That’s huge. It means our staff knows immediately, at the child’s bedside, what medications have been administered, when and how. That’s a tremendous safety enhancement for our patients."

Mark Zielanzinski, VP and CIO at the hospital, says, "We are one of the first children’s hospitals nationwide, and the only one in California, to use this system with our emergency patients. That means the record of every medication administered to a child from the time he or she walks through the door is immediately available to the staff who need to see it, wherever they are in the hospital.

"For example, the PICU [pediatric intensive care unit] nurse will no longer have to wait for paperwork to arrive documenting what medications a child received in the emergency department. That information is instantly and simultaneously available throughout the hospital to anyone who needs it, giving them immediate access to medication information to use in making decisions about the best care for their patients."

Zielanzinski adds, "The BMV tool is part of the continuing journey of Children’s Hospital toward a complete system of electronic medical records. Our commitment to patient safety and outstanding care are driving us toward a robust system that will both streamline information sharing within the hospital and allow us to coordinate care with other hospitals and providers, wherever they may be."

According to a press release from the hospital, a key component to the BMV system is the wireless device called the Motion C5 Mobile Clinical Assistant from Motion Computing. It uses the Windows platform, has a virtual keyboard and digital pen, and provides access to the hospital’s clinical information system through a wireless connection. Nurses and respiratory care providers use the C5 integrated barcode scanner to scan all medications and all patients prior to administering drugs. Each dose is automatically logged into the patient’s electronic medical record and can be viewed immediately.

With the previous system, a handheld device scanned the medication, but that information remained on the device, rather than being transmitted to the patient’s medical record.

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