75 Percent Favor Barcodes on Prescription Medicines;
Nursing Shortage Seen as Most Serious Health Hazard
VALLEY FORGE, Pa., Feb 25, 2003 -- Twenty-three percent of Americans
-- or nearly one in four -- say they or a family member have received
the wrong medication at some point from a healthcare professional,
according to the latest AmerisourceBergen Index released today.
The quarterly telephone survey was conducted from January 23-26,
2003 by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of AmerisourceBergen,
the largest pharmaceutical services company in the United States
dedicated solely to the pharmaceutical supply channel. The margin
of error is plus or minus three percent.
The survey of 1033 adults nationwide explored a variety of issues
related to patient safety, including the best ways to prevent
medication errors, safety hazards in hospitals, and the priority
hospitals place on patient safety.
New Technologies Score High Marks
|Reducing medication errors was a key topic addressed
by the AmerisourceBergen Index. One way to reduce these errors
is through barcode scanning systems, which scan medications
and patient identification bracelets at hospital bedsides
to verify patients are receiving the correct medications.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said they favored the
use of barcode technologies as a way to reduce medication
errors. This technology garnered even more support from 18-34-year-olds,
with 82 percent in this age group saying the government should
require drug manufacturers and companies that repackage drugs
to put barcodes on all prescription medications.
In a related question, barcode scanning of medications came in
second out of a list of five ways to increase medication-dispensing
accuracy. Twenty- four percent of all respondents selected this
choice. Interest was even higher among 45-to-54-year-olds, with
32 percent of these respondents choosing this option.
First place went to requiring doctors to use computers
to issue prescriptions instead of writing them by hand.
This was selected by 32 percent of all respondents. ---
And a just released PDA application by BlueFish Wireless
makes this easy:
Bluefish RX, allows you to:
- Conveniently send clear, legible prescriptions directly
to your patients' pharmacy via your handheld computer.
- Securely send your patients' prescriptions from your
wireless palm, from anywhere, with a few taps of your
- Because you send the prescription to the pharmacy, compliance
is increased. Many pharmacies will follow up with the
patient to ensure the prescription is filled.
- The handheld computer will allow you to keep better
track of patient records and the medications you have
- Avoid unnecessary interruptions from pharmacies seeking
drug name and dosage clarifications
- With the prescription sent directly to the Pharmacy,
patient tampering is no longer possible
Greater use of automated technologies to count pills and check
prescriptions before they are dispensed placed third, with 17
percent of respondents picking this. At the bottom of the list
were "more pharmacists" (11 percent) and "more
pharmacy technicians" (8 percent).
However, when respondents were asked whether the government should
provide low-interest loans to pharmacy students to address the
current pharmacist shortage and encourage more people to enter
the field, 83 percent of those surveyed said yes. Only 15 percent
Hospital Commitment to Safety Viewed Favorably
Despite concerns over patient safety, 93 percent of respondents
said they believed hospitals placed a priority on reducing medication
errors and medical mistakes, although they expressed this opinion
to varying degrees. Thirty- three percent said they thought hospitals
viewed this as "a top priority," while 41 percent said
it was important, but not a top priority. Eighteen percent said
hospitals considered this "somewhat important." However,
only five percent said hospitals did not consider it important
to reduce medical or medication errors.
Uniform Safety Protocols Favored
With regard to other solutions for ensuring greater patient safety,
80 percent of respondents said they thought the healthcare industry
would benefit from the adoption of uniform safety protocols prior
to administering medication or performing a medical procedure,
such as a checklist or other measures. When asked why they thought
uniform safety procedures had not yet been adopted, 47 percent
cited cost. Twenty-one percent said it was disagreement over how
to accomplish this goal, while 15 percent attributed it to a resistance
to change. Only 10 percent selected physician independence as
Most Serious Hospital Hazard
|The current nursing shortage was
perceived to be the most serious safety hazard facing hospital
patients today, according to 32 percent of those surveyed.
This was followed by residents and interns who work long hours
without sleep (27 percent), the risk of getting an infection
while hospitalized (22 percent), and the risk of a medical
mistake or medication error (15 percent).
Nurses Using Mobile IT to Counter Nursing Burnout
AmerisourceBergen (NYSE: ABC) is the largest pharmaceutical services
company in the United States dedicated solely to the pharmaceutical
supply channel. It is the leading distributor of pharmaceutical
products and services to the hospital systems/acute care market,
physician's offices, alternate care and mail order facilities,
independent community pharmacies, and regional chain pharmacies.
The Company is also a leader in the institutional pharmacy marketplace.
With more than $40 billion in annualized operating revenue, AmerisourceBergen
is headquartered in Valley Forge, PA, and employs more than 13,000
people. For more information go to www.amerisourcebergen.com.