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Use Of Barcode Technology In The Nicu

1275 words - 6 pages

Patient care safety has always been an important focus of healthcare, but this focus has received an enormous amount of attention in recent years. Recognizing the significant prevalence of incidents, and the high costs associated, the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations has instituted many safety standards for healthcare organizations to follow. The intent of these standards is in the prevention and reduction of errors which negatively impact patient outcomes. One such standard is related to the process of accurate patient identification; a crucial factor in reducing errors related to the administration of medications, as well as blood and nutritional products. Reliance on healthcare practitioners alone, to correctly identify and match patients with prescribed therapies, in all instances, is no longer sufficient to meet the demands of an ever-changing healthcare environment. The very fact that nurses are human, and as a result imperfect, supports the need for processes to help reduce the effect of human factor on the incidence of errors. The use of barcode technology, in conjunction with the human element, has been demonstrated to effectively reduce the incidence of errors related to misidentification. In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the advantage of barcode technology is of specific value because of the vulnerable patient population it serves. The application of barcode technology to the administration of expressed breast milk is a valuable tool in reducing the errors associated with human factors.

The use of human breast milk as the preferred nutrition for all infants has been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The benefits of breast milk, especially the premature infant have been well documented, and include the reduction in the incidence of sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP). It is also beneficial in improving neurodevelopmental outcomes and positively affecting health even into adulthood (AAP, 2012). However, the process of expressed breast milk administration is multifaceted, and the opportunity for error in administration is significant. While the actual incidence of the transmission of infection is low, any incidence can have devastating consequences to both the infant and the family (Drenckpohl, 2007). Even in the event that there was no harmful outcome, the emotional distress to the parents cannot be underestimated. For this reason, it is imperative that a process which reduces the incidence of breast milk mismanagement be implemented in all NICUs regardless of their size.

Much attention is given to administration errors in medication, but little has been given to the incident of errors in breast milk administration. (Fleischman, 2013) Human breast milk, as a body fluid, should be handled with the same concern as that given to blood product administration. Taking the statistics for blood transfusion errors and applying them to...

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