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Ideas That Work: Med Safety Thrown a Curve
Med Safety Thrown a Curve
Publish Date: August 5, 2021   |  Tags:   Ideas That Work Patient Safety Supply Management
Med Safety
POTENTIAL PROBLEM Manufacturers sometimes test barcodes before they’re put on containers, not realizing they can’t be read by scanning technology if they’re wrapped on rounded receptacles.

Avoid using medication containers with barcodes imprinted horizontally on rounded surfaces because they could result in scanning failures that compromise patient safety, warns the Institute of Safe Medication Practices (ISMP).

“Placing barcodes on curved containers is an ongoing safety concern that facilities who use scanning technology during medication selection and administration should take steps to address,” says ISMP President Michael Cohen, RPh, MS, ScD (hon), DPS (hon), FASHP. “If the medication isn’t properly read by a scanner, it could result in a repeated dose if one of your colleagues thinks a dose wasn’t administered. Subsequent decisions could also be based on a review of inaccurate medication histories.”

The organization is urging drug manufacturers to cease printing barcodes on rounded surfaces of ampules, vials, inhaler canisters, oral liquid bottles and prefilled syringes unless they’re printed perpendicular to the curve of the container, usually along the edge of the label. 

Until changes are made to how barcodes are printed on commercial medical containers, ISMP suggests avoiding products with curved barcodes, when possible, if your facility uses scanning technology during product selection and administration.