Elk Regional Remains Committed to Patient Safety

The Board of Directors, administration and staff at Elk Regional Health Center have always been deeply committed to the constant improvement of patient safety. To demonstrate that commitment, ERHC makes it a point to funnel resources into preventing medication errors.

Now, just over a year after Elk Regional Health Center began using bedside medication verification, hospital officials are pleased to announce that the innovative patient safety initiative boasts a 99.6 percent accuracy rate.

Bedside medication verification, or BMV, uses barcode scanning at the patient’s bedside to provide immediate confirmation that the patient is getting the right medication in the right dose via the right method and at the right time.

“You are no doubt familiar with the use of barcode scanning every time you go to the store. This is the same concept,” said Chris Barackman, RPh, ERHC’s Director of Pharmacy. “This technology has been applied to the administration of medication to ensure the highest level of medication accuracy.”

BMV establishes a set of checks and balances that help ensure patient safety. As patients are admitted to ERHC, they are given an identification bracelet with their own personal barcode. When medications are administered, caregivers use a handheld scanner to confirm a patient’s identity by scanning the barcode on the patient’s wristband. Then, the caregiver verifies the correct medication and dosage for the patient by scanning the barcode on each medication package. Within seconds, the information is processed and crosschecked against the patient’s electronic record, confirming the accuracy of the medication as ordered by the physician. The hospital’s computer system also crosschecks for any allergies and/or adverse drug reactions.

To help improve the efficiency of the physician order process, ERHC also put into place an online medication order management system. What used to be a time-consuming process with multiple steps moving through numerous people, faxing and paper shuffling is now a simplified computer supported function that eliminates the use of faxes and paper shuffling.

Now, physician orders are scanned into ERHC’s Meditech computer system from the inpatient floor. Within minutes, that order appears on a mediation order tracker screen in the pharmacy department, where a pharmacist knows to immediately fill the order. Using dual monitors, the pharmacist has the ability to view the scanned order on one monitor while simultaneously processing the order on a second. Once the pharmacist completes the order, it is removed from the tracker screen and the pharmacist moves on to the next order. There are no written notes, no faxes, and no papers to shuffle – or worse, to lose.

The system also allows for communication between pharmacists to allow follow up on any order clarifications. 

There are numerous advantages of ERHC’s paperless pharmacy, including the ability to color code orders to set priority, sounds that alert the pharmacist when a new order has arrived on the tracker, the ability to enlarge the order sheet for easier reading, a reduction in interpretation errors and the ability to save scanned orders into the computer system, where they become part of the patient’s permanent record.

“With bedside medication verification and the online medication order management system, Elk Regional Health Center continues its commitment to always look for ways to improve patient safety and to better serve our patients,” said Debbie Garrett, ERHC’s Chief Nursing Officer. 

Photo: Pictured are Sally Condon, RN and Sherri Wilson, RN as they scan a patient’s medication.


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