Lehigh Valley Hospital goes live on wireless bar code assisted medication charting

Burlington 24 June 2003Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network (LVHHN) is the first customer to go live with IDX's wireless bar code medication charting technology. LVHHN is using the application with IDX LastWord; it is also available with the next-generation IDX Carecast. LVHHN has implemented bar code medication charting on a busy 31-bed medical/surgical unit, and will roll it out to the remaining units in its three community hospitals over the next three months.


"Bar code medication charting is an integral part of our efforts to promote patient safety", stated Terry Capuano, R.N., LVHHN's senior vice president of clinical services. "In conjunction with LastWord computerised physician order entry (CPOE), which is also being implemented throughout the LVHHN network, wireless charting and bar coding will help reduce prescription errors and improve the overall quality of care."

Bar code charting provides safeguards against errors at the time of medication administration, the last stage in the medication cycle, and the second most likely place for medication use errors to occur, with 34 percent of errors occurring during medication administration and 56 percent during medication ordering. By implementing this application along with CPOE and an automated pharmacy system, LVHHN is closing the loop on patient safety and error prevention.

Because LVHHN's nursing staff were already familiar with on-line medication charting, training time was minimal and response to the new system has been very positive, as Terry Capuano noted. Bar code charting helps prevent medication errors by confirming the "five rights", that the right dose of the right drug is being administered to the right patient via the right route at the right time, and alerting the nurse at the time of administration if there are any discrepancies.

The system provides nurses with specific reminders when the order is for a part of a packaged dose, or when multiple tablets comprise a single dose, and allows the care team to view the exact time when medication was actually administered to the patient.

To utilise bar code charting, each unit dose of medication, including every IV, receives a bar code before it leaves the hospital pharmacy. Clinicians use handheld wireless scanners to scan the codes on the medication tag and the patient's ID bracelet. Because the application fully integrates with the clinical information system, either Carecast or LastWord, scanning the tags automatically enters the drug, dose and time of administration in the patient's chart. Real-time charting ensures a more accurate record than entering the information manually at intervals during or at the end of a shift.

"Lehigh has been on the cutting edge of implementing technology to enhance patient safety, an exceptional effort for any health care organisation, and is an expert among community hospitals in this arena", stated Michael Raymer, Vice President of Marketing, IDX Carecast. "We share their commitment to Advancing Fail-Safe Care and salute their passion and dedication to improving the quality of patient care."

Based in Allentown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network is composed of Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest & I-78, Lehigh Valley Hospital - 17th & Chew, Lehigh Valley Hospital B Muhlenberg and Lehigh Valley Health Services, which includes home health, hospice, rehabilitation, pharmacy and health management. Advanced regional resources at these non-profit hospitals include a Level I Trauma Center with added paediatric qualifications, as well as burn, kidney and pancreas transplant, perinatal and neonatal, cardiac, cancer care, and neurology and complex neurosurgery.

Founded in 1969, IDX Systems Corporation provides information technology solutions to maximise value in the delivery of health care, improve the quality of patient service, enhance medical outcomes, and reduce the costs of care. IDX supports these objectives with a broad range of complementary and functionally rich products installed at 3300 customer sites. Customers include 138.000 physicians who utilise practice management systems to improve patient care and other work flow processes.

IDX Systems are installed at 380 Integrated delivery networks (IDNs) representing more than 500 hospitals; 175 large group practices with more than 200 physicians; and 665 mid-size group practices with less than 200 physicians. The IDX Web strategy includes browser technology, e-commerce and Web-based tools built using Internet architecture, that facilitates access for patients, physicians and care providers to vital health information and data managed by the IDX clinical, administrative, financial, and managed care products. IDX has approximately 2100 full-time employees.

Carecast is IDX's next generation of electronic clinical information solutions, delivering unsurpassed response time and reliability to support fast-paced clinical environments. The system automates work flow throughout the health care enterprise and enables rapid access to patient records across the care continuum, from admission to discharge, including pharmacy and ambulatory care.

Carecast is a fully integrated clinical, financial and administrative system, combining core clinical processes for orders, results, pharmacy and clinical documentation with administrative and financial processes for scheduling, registration, admitting, charging and billing. The result is a comprehensive lifetime patient record that enhances the quality of care and promotes operational efficiencies. Developed by and for providers, in collaboration with some of the United States' major hospitals, clinicians and health care executives, Carecast builds on 25 years of innovation with the IDX LastWord enterprise clinical system. For more news on IDX, read this issue's article Parkview Health selects IDX and Sentillion for access and security capabilities.

Leslie Versweyveld

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