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Patient safety is critical, here's a few ways barcode technology can help 

By Theresea Lee

We’ve seen the tremendous impact of COVID-19 affecting hospitals and care facilities around the globe.  As the system overflows with patients, there are a few ways we can leverage technology to speed up processes, eliminate errors, and make it easier on our healthcare workers.

At Toshiba, we’re always looking for ways to help customers, and healthcare is a great example. We’re there to help ease the stress of patient care with the simple use of barcodes which can take the pressure off the flow of patients, samples and information.


Patient Identification

During the admissions process most hospitals issue identification wristband patients wear throughout their stay. When scanned, the patient’s electronic medical record can be viewed and updated to include details on medications administered, specimens taken, and treatment performed.

The steps are simple, and tracking is immediate. A healthcare provider simply scans the patient’s wristband and then scans the barcode on the medication; barcode technology ensures the correct medication and dosage is given to the right patient.

For hospital admissions, Toshiba’s small, easy-to-use desktop thermal printers are the recommended choice. They are compact, designed for easy media loading, and can print wristbands as well as various labels. Coated paper is available, making ID wristbands resistant to soaps, alcohol, water, blood and other substances.  This helps maintain the scannable barcode quality.


Specimen Collection

A pathologist’s worse nightmare is mixing up specimens, which can lead to diagnosing the wrong patient. This is why blood and other samples typically are labelled at point-of-care.

Labels used for specimens need to be very specific. Samples can undergo processes such as sterilization, radiation, and extreme hot or cold temperature.  When poor quality barcodes are exposed to these conditions it can cause them to fade, bleed or become unreadable when scanned. This is why Toshiba printers are tested with the proper media and certified before use.

Toshiba’s portable and small desktop printers can be used for specimen labelling. They are lightweight and communicate with the medical worker’s handheld or mobile devices.

Bedside collection can be assisted with portable printers that offer labelling on the spot, reducing handling errors. Once the patient’s wristband is scanned and verified, blood or other specimen can be drawn and labelled, and the medical record updated.


Pharmacy, Medication Management

Drug manufacturers are required by the 2004 FDA mandate to put the National Drug Code (NDC) on their packages. This NDC linear barcode contains the drug name, number, dosage, and company.

Labelling is critical in a pharmacy. Medications are usually scanned to verify the NDC number against the prescription order. This ensures the correct medication and dosage is administered to the right patient for safety. Aside from dispensing errors, this also updates the hospital’s medication inventory.

However, hospitals typically purchase drugs in bulk from their central pharmacy. They often repackage unit-of-use packages in their facilities or use contracted repackage operations.  More information aside from the NDC such as the expiration date, lot number, dosage size is often needed on unit-of-use labels.

Toshiba’s mid-range or desktop printers are recommended for this application. These printers typically are stationary with higher print speed, larger media capacity and can be shared in a department.

Due to concerns about patient’s safety there are increasingly more government regulations to oversee and manage various aspects of healthcare operations.  Luckily, barcode technology can be used to enhance visibility, traceability and safety.


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