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Bar Coding


St. Luke's Health-Memorial is setting a higher standard for patient safety. The hospital now is tracking all patient medications and personal information through a simple bracelet which is placed on the patient during the admissions process. It is called Electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR). This technology is designed to immediately provide patient care information to physicians and nurses while lowering the risk of medication errors.

eMAR is part of St. Luke's Health-Memorial's core pharmacy information system where all aspects of a patient’s medication orders are recorded. The critical components of this safety technology are bar coded armbands, bar coded medications, and safety checks within the eMAR and bar coding software. This technology helps lower the risk of medication errors while making a patient’s medication record readily available to physicians and nurses. It is now required that all medications be bar coded before they are put in the automatic medication dispensing machines that are located on patient floors.


  • Reduces medication errors through use of bar code identifiers on the patient armband and medication
  • Makes patient care information readily available to the nursing staff during medication administration like critical values and comprehensive allergy and drug interaction information
  • Provides physicians with a comprehensive list of patient medication use

By scanning the patient's wristband, the nurse has a computer record of that patient and what medications they are suppose to receive. The nursing staff follows Joint Commission protocol by also verbally asking the patient to identify themselves by giving their name and date of birth. Once it is determined that the nurse is treating the assigned patient, the caregiver then scans each medicine before administering it to the patient. If there is a medication conflict, the technology alerts the nurse before a patient is given the medication and the system will not allow the nurse to continue. At that point, the nurse consults with the hospital pharmacy to troubleshoot the discrepancy. In most cases, the medication in question is returned to the pharmacy and replaced. Once the medication is bar coded, it is checked and verified again by the staff to make sure the right bar code was put on the appropriate medication.

eMAR technology helps the nursing staff meet five basic criteria in distributing medication. Those include making sure caregivers have the right patient, the right medications, the proper dosage, the appropriate form (whether injection or oral) and the right frequency.


The PACMED™ high-speed packager automates bar code packaging of oral and solid medications, improves packaging accuracy and pharmacy workflow efficiency, and facilitates the transition to scanning bar coded medications at the patient's bedside.

The intelligent PACMED packager works with the Pharmacy Information System, the Automated Dispensing Cabinets, and the electronic nurse documentation system to close the loop on medication safety.

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