The possibility of critical mistakes being made in the supply of medication from the pharmacy through human error is ever present

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A Case Study from Metrologic

In Holland, the use of leading edge bar code reading technology is providing a safety net in towns across the country ensuring that the likelihood of such a potentially dangerous mistake is greatly reduced.

The Dutch town of Oud Beijerland with a population of nearly 50,000 is situated south west of Rotterdam and is an excellent example of this scheme in operation. The town has two GPs practices and the patient records are stored in a central database linked to both of the main pharmacies. Any one of the towns seven Doctors can complete a traditional prescription but will also register the prescription details directly into the patients record.

When that patient arrives at either of the two Apotheek Apollo branches in the town, the bar code on the traditional prescription is read using one of Metrologics best selling MS9520 Voyager hand held scanners supplied by Metrologic Distributor, TCP Benelux through Dutch Pharmacy specialist, Cobbler ICT Services.

The customers identity is confirmed another excellent benefit of the system in a country where drug misuse has been a problem and the prescribed medication details on the database are checked with those on the prescription. The medication is then dispensed and scanned to cross check against the database.

These are busy environments with 400 typically collecting prescribed medicines on a daily basis rising to 600 at weekends or during the Winter months when flu and colds are more prevalent. According to the staff, the system is really easy to use with excellent first pass read rates from the Voyagers bringing belt and braces security to a critical customer facing application.

The system operated in this and many other towns across the country is so obviously the sensible way to manage the requirements of a medium sized town but it of course relies on the buy-in of the Doctors, the pharmacies and, of course, the inhabitants.

The town of Bodegraven is in central Holland and whilst smaller, with 19,000 people, it operates the Pharmacom systems from Cobbler ICT Services. There are 4 GPs in practice who have the database linked to the Lloyds group of pharmacies in the town. Again, the system operates in the same way, but as Mrs Coes, Manager of Lloyds points out, brings added benefits to both the Surgery and the Pharmacy. If a patient goes to hospital locally, we, and the doctors will be able to see the drugs administered there and can ensure continuity of care once they have been discharged and are back at home. The Doctors are also able to see which drugs are in stock and prescribe accordingly.

An extra benefit of the system enables local delivery of the medicines. With everything being bar coded, a complete track and trace system is in operation for undelivered prescriptions. Customers simply take the bar coded tracking document to the indicated pharmacy in Bodegraven, where, after suitable checks, the medication can be handed over.

The scanner upgrade is continuing on an on-going basis as older types are ready for replacement. Cobbler ICT Services estimate that 250 Voyagers have been installed by them alone in Holland. The whole concept and its huge implications for patient safety are driving its introduction throughout Holland and yet again, the Metrologic brand is at the forefront of a technology - driven  project bringing increased customer care.


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