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Bahrain mulls use of barcode in hospitals

Manama, April 7, 2009

Bahrain could soon use barcode technology in hospitals to reduce medical errors, it was revealed.

Patients would be given their own barcode upon admission to hospital, reducing the risk of operation mix-ups and ensuring they receive the proper medication.

The technology, used in many parts of the world, would allow health professionals to scan the barcode to get a full breakdown of the patient's condition, medical history and medication.

Health Ministry training and planning assistant under-secretary Dr Fawzi Amin revealed details of the plan on the sidelines of a GCC conference on patient safety, which opened at the College of Health Sciences, Salmaniya, yesterday.

The event, which has brought together speakers from Bahrain, other GCC countries and Yemen, focuses on quality improvement, patient safety, morbidity and mortality, among other things.

'We have no clear figures for Bahrain as such statistics have never been compiled, but we are aware that many medical errors and blunders have taken place,' admitted Dr Amin.

'These cannot be eliminated completely, but can be reduced considerably with more care.'

He revealed patients in hospital could soon have a barcoded wristband, which would not only include information on their medical history, but also the procedures they are to undergo.

'It would also list medication they are taking and are expected to take, as well as the regimen they are expected to follow.'

Hospital staff would then carry handheld barcode readers to determine what to do with patients when they are in hospital.

'There have been instances worldwide of wrong site and wrong patient surgeries, as well as wrong medication being given to patients,' he said.

'These have resulted in severe problems and fatalities.

'We can prevent most of these from happening with proper precautions and procedures.'

He said it was important to recognise that such errors were often due to multiple factors in a complex medical system.

'In most cases, medication errors can't be blamed on one person,' he claimed.

Our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News reported last month that Bahrain had joined a World Health Organisation initiative to promote safe surgery which, when fully implemented, would make Salmaniya Medical Complex one of just 250 hospitals worldwide to have enrolled in the 'safe surgery saves lives' initiative.

Senior Health Ministry officials, representatives from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and the BDF Royal Medical Services were present.

GCC Health Ministers' executive council director-general Dr Tawfeeq Khoja also spoke.-TradeArabia News Service




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