Medication package barcoding and patient safety addressed at GS1 conference

Dec. 3, 2019

More than 300 healthcare professionals from 46 countries convened in New Delhi, India for the 36th Global GS1 Healthcare Conference. Participants shared updates, experiences and best practices centered on pharmaceutical traceability, hospital transformations and the status of unique device identification (UDI) regulations globally.

Healthcare professionals and pharmacists shared their lessons learned from barcoding unit-level packages for improved medication management. This session was filled with practical information and recommendations about how to make hospitals and pharmacies safer environments for patients.

Sebastien Langlois-Berthelot, Business Capability Analyst, Global Serialisation Operations with Roche, Switzerland, shared Roche’s ongoing journey of applying barcodes—first, on secondary packages and then, evolving to the GS1 DataMatrix barcode on primary packages. He advised that more and more leading hospitals worldwide are introducing requirements for the presence of barcodes for tenders—a strong incentive for manufacturers to get onboard.

A major hospital confirmed, “We are a large purchaser. If the supplier will not comply (by using GS1 standards), then we change supplier.”

Pharmacist Maryanne Molenaar provided additional details about how four hospitals are taking a proactive stance to patient safety by applying barcodes on unit doses of medication. This is part of the Closed Loop Electronic Medication Management (CLEMM) system that aims to minimize manual processes and associated human errors and risks.

Robert Moss, President of the Hospital Pharmacy Section, International Pharmaceutical Federation, Netherlands, noted the multiple steps in medication management and where errors are more likely to happen—in prescribing and administering. He stressed how hospital pharmacists should develop quality assurance strategies to detect errors, using GS1 standards-assisted medication administration while calling on drug manufacturers to leverage barcodes on unit dose packages. Medication safety practices are outlined in the International Pharmaceutical Federation’s paper, “The Basel Statements: Statements for the preferred future in Hospital Pharmacy.”

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