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Application of Healthcare Informatics and Technology to Inform Nursing Practice

4 pages
1027 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

The use of Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA) healthcare technology has gained ground in the recent past as a measure to prevent medical errors (Bowers et al., 2015). Medical errors often occur due to the administration of the wrong dosage, administering drugs using the wrong route, duplication omission, using the wrong solution or administering drugs at the wrong time. Healthcare staffs are required to adhere to a process of prescribing, dispensing and administering medication that is usually challenging and marred with an increased risk of errors. These tend to occur because of human factors involved and thus proven systems are required to be put in place in the healthcare system to protect patients by pointing out errors before they occur. The use of Bar Code technology has been adopted as a choice solution to minimize these potential errors. This technology improves patient safety by enhancing accuracy throughout the medication administration process.

Nursing Technical Skills Required to Operate BCMA

For effective use of this technology, nurses are required to be conversant with the use of a scanner incorporated into a BCMA system (Bowers et al., 2015). This is primary skill nurses should possess for a successful operation of the system. The second important skill is the use of electronic medication administration record. Nurses are expected to be conversant with the use of electronic records because BCMA system reviews medication record online and thus help nurses determines the appropriate medication to be administered. Nurses are required to possess analytical skills to be able to reconcile the unit-level dispensing device with the electronic medication administration records (Bowers et al., 2015). This allows nurses to have a proper comparison of medical records before administering the prescribed medication. The fourth skill involves the need for nurses to understand the traditional five rights of medication administration that is person, medication, dosage, time and route.

Challenges of Implementing BCMA Technology

Implementing BCMA technology is usually not a smooth process as it requires appropriate planning and adoption strategy (Glover, 2013). If it is not installed properly, the system can give rise to workarounds errors. These errors are nonstandard procedures that usually give short-term solutions to problems. They are indicators that the system needs to be improved. Besides, these errors are brought about by hardware issues such as technical disconnections, slow software, lost or unreadable wristband and cumbersome work stations (Glover, 2013). Nurses may encounter difficulties scanning barcodes that if not immediately addressed may lead to decrease use of the system. Errors could also arise if nurses fail to put the right wristband on the patient. When this occurs, wrong medication would still be administered and thus escalate the problem.

How BCMA Provides Data to Improve Patient Care

The use of BCMA technology offers necessary data that improves patient care. By scanning the patients identification band and the bar code imprinted on the unit-dose medication package, nurses with the help of this technology perform redundancy check. An automatic documentation of electronic medication administration record is reflected which signal if the medication matches or there is a potential error. Through the help of this technology, nurses can double check whether the prescribed medication in the unit dose package is accurate before any administration is carried out (McRoberts, 2005). This prevents instances where medication is administered, and errors detected afterward. Thus BCMA technology together with the use electronic medication administration record gives essential verification data for accurate and safe administration of drugs.

How BCMA Technology Assist Nurses

BCMA technology assists nurses and other medical staff to access important patient information. The basis of this technology is the fact that a nurse can scan the medications to be administered along with the bar codes imprinted on the patient wristband (Bell, 2009). In the event of any discrepancies or errors between what has been entered into the patient profile and what the nurse intends to administer, the system immediately alerts the nurse. The nurse can then examine what has caused the alert and find out what changes are needed to be incorporated before the drugs are administered.

Challenges Encountered by Nurses without the Input of Support Staff

Without technical support to operate and run BCMA technology, nurses are likely to encounter several challenges that include software disconnection, unreadable wristband, and difficulties in scanning barcodes (Ketchel & Sakowski, 2013). Since BCMA is an electronic system that relies on a complete connection to other electronic devices, nurses are likely not to understand how to restore connection if the system fails without the input of technical staff. The support provided by the technical staff always ensures nurses make the right connection for it to function properly. To address this challenge, nurses should learn how to connect the system without relying so much on technical support. In the event wristband on a patient is unreadable, nurses must seek the intervention of support staff to figure out the problem. If support staffs are not available, nurses would be unable to address the challenge on their own and may be forced to administer the drugs without double checking which will increase the risk of medical errors (Ketchel & Sakowski, 2013). Nurses should be trained on how to rectify faulty wristband to address this challenge. Also, setbacks that normally occur due to difficulties of scanning barcodes require the input of support staff. In their absence nurses who are not trained to rectify these difficulties may administer wrong medication. All nurses should be trained on how to scan properly bar codes imprinted on the patients' wristband to address this challenge.



Bell, M. M. (2009). Bar code point of care systems: benefits and pitfalls. Pennsylvania Nurses Association.Bowers, M. A., Goda, K., Bene V., Sibila, K., Piccin, R., Golla, S., Dani, F., & Zell, K. (2015).

Impact of bar-code medication administration on medication administration best practices. Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Glover, N. (2013). Challenges implementing bar-coded medication administration in the emergency room in comparison to medical surgical units. Computers, Informatics, Nursing & Vol. 31, No. 3, 133141 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Ketchel, A., & Sakowski, A. J. (2013). The cost of implementing inpatient bar code medication administration. The American Journal of Managed Care.McRoberts, S. (2005). The use of bar code technology in medication administration.

Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


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