St. Clair Hospital reduces medication administration errors with Socket Communications bar code scanning technology

Newark 03 May 2005St. Clair Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, selected Socket Communications Inc.'s bar code scanning technology to upgrade and automate the hospital patient care system. St. Clair is using Socket's In-Hand Scan Card with Pocket PCs in conjunction with Veriscan from Sculptor Developmental Technologies Inc., a software engineering company dedicated to providing software solutions to the health care industry, to reduce medication errors, streamline work flow and improve patient safety.


According to the Institute of Medicine, medical errors kill an estimated 44.000 to 98.000 Americans every year, including 7000 deaths from medication-related errors alone. At St. Clair, the wireless handheld medication verification system increases patient safety by reducing bedside medication errors. The system provides real-time bedside 5-Rights Medication Verification utilizing Wi-Fi enabled wireless Pocket PCs. The system positively identifies the nurse, patient and medication through Socket's bar code scanning technology to ensure the right patient is receiving the right medication and dose via the right form of administration at the right time.

"We know that the majority of medication errors occur at the point of administration", stated Tom Ague, COO at St. Clair. "The Medication Verification System is cutting that number significantly, bringing an enhanced quality of care and safety to our patients. Health care professionals find the easy-to-carry wireless handheld computer simple to operate. Bar coding at St. Clair has received substantial support from its nurses by relieving their apprehension about making errors, reducing their administrative burden, and promoting accurate documentation."

Prior to the implementation of the bar code scanning solution at St. Clair, only one in every eight medication errors were identified, with approximately 600 errors being reported annually to the hospital Board of Directors. With the bar code scanning solution in place, an annualized 5000 potential medication errors were identified and prevented. In addition to controlling risk factors that may harm a patient, St. Clair is also realizing increased productivity and cost savings through this application. Overall nursing time spent at the end of the shift on documentation tasks is now saved through the application's real-time wireless charting.

The sophistication of the 5-Rights Medication Verification software on the handheld form factor provides an efficient means to enable the nurse to enter medical observations. The observations are then automatically posted to the patient chart. The underlying technology includes 2-way wireless communication with proprietary data encryption, 5-Rights Medication Verification software, HL7 Interface capability, RFID and bar code encoding and reading capabilities. The Socket In-Hand Scan Card combines Socket's Mobility Friendly CompactFlash technology with the world's smallest scanner engine.

"Bar code technology excels at improving efficiency and eliminating human error", stated Peter Phillips, vice president of marketing at Socket Communications. "It's for this reason that the United States Food and Drug Administration has mandated that all drugs and biological products such as units of blood in hospitals have identifying bar codes. The solution developed by Sculptor which utilizes Socket's lightweight, rugged scanning products is helping to increase staff productivity, create cost savings for the facility, and most importantly, increase patient care quality."

St. Clair Hospital is an independent community hospital providing comprehensive, high quality care to the residents of Southwestern Pennsylvania. The hospital's main campus is conveniently located just outside of downtown Pittsburgh.

Socket Communications Inc., the Mobile Connection company, provides a broad range of connectivity and data collection products for mobile devices using Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Windows XP, Palm, RIM and Symbian-based operating systems. These mobile devices include PDAs, smartphones, Tablet PCs and notebooks that support standard expansion mechanisms. Socket's Mobility Friendly products are feature-rich while promoting ease of use and lead the market with the smallest footprint and the most Battery Friendly power consumption in their class. Socket's Development Services team provides hardware developers with solutions using mobilityIC interface chips, KwikBlue Modules with embedded Bluetooth wireless technology, as well as other technologies implemented in Socket's wide range of products.

Leslie Versweyveld

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